Queen sent handwritten note praising JJ Chalmers' 'fantastic' Strictly performance
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JJ, who suffered terrible injuries in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2011 but went on to become a multi-medal winner at the Invictus Games in 2014, took part in the 18th series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2020, partnered with professional dancer Amy Dowden.
After the death of her husband Prince Philip in 2021, the Queen was replying to a letter of sympathy from JJ’s father, former Kirk Moderator the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, who was also one of her chaplains, and commented on JJ's appearance on the programme.
Dr Chalmers said: “She followed the journey of our son when he was recovering from the injuries he sustained in Afghanistan. When she realised that JJ was none other than the star that she had been watching on Strictly Come Dancing, she penned a handwritten letter reflecting on how ‘fantastically’ he had danced and how glad she was that his life had changed so much.”
JJ, who is a friend of Prince Harry’s, also referred to the Queen’s note in an interview as part of the BBC’s coverage of her death and the commemorations in Edinburgh.
He said: “One of the loveliest things I've ever seen, following the death of her husband, my father had written to her, and she returned a letter, which was typed and had all the expected notes with it, but at the bottom, there was a handwritten message.
“It said: ‘I've just realised that the JJ Chalmers that I've been watching on the coverage of my husband's funeral is the same JJ Chalmers that you told me of being injured all those years ago’. And also a line that said ‘and the same JJ Chalmers I enjoyed watching on Strictly Come Dancing’.”
JJ and Amy were eliminated in the quarter finals of the competition, after losing the dance-off to Jamie Laing and Karen Hauer.
JJ was serving with 42 Commando in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province In May 2011, when he suffered a broken neck, lost two fingers, and almost lost both his arms in an explosion. The Taliban bomb blast claimed the lives of two colleagues.
Dr Chalmers, a former minister of Edinburgh’s Palmerston Place Church, who was also one of the Queen’s chaplains in Scotland, said: “She was genuine in her admiration of people who had achieved remarkable things and it gave her enormous pride when she was able to recognise and celebrate those achievements.”