I took voluntary retirement the year of the Queens visit, and casually remarked to a mate at work that we would be able to take the caravan out more and maybe even meet the Queen. She was not impressed, being a non-royalist.
A week or so later, with some time on my hands, I saw the competition in the Bury Free Press, I decided to try it and sent in my entry, not dreaming. I could win it. I had to write a letter to tell the queen why she should come to BSE for a holiday.
We went to our favourite spot on the Norfolk Broads for a fortnight. When we came back I found a message on the phone from the Editor telling me I had won and to be at the Athenaeum in two days to meet the Queen.
I had nothing to wear so I went to town but could find nothing. I sorted through my wardrobe and found a comfortable pair of trousers, a blue flowered vest and a blue blouse and navy sandals.
When I met her, the Queen was so easy to talk to and gave me a lovely smile as I curtsied. She looked at the laminated sheet of my letter and asked me if it was in my own hand. I answered “Yes your Majesty,” and she said “Very Good”. I can’t remember all she said but we talked about poetry, which I did quite a lot then, but I gave her two of my poems in a small gold gift bag, and told her they might be of interest to Prince William and Prince Harry as one was about their mother and the other about their great-grandmother. I told her I write from pure inspiration and I like, think that inspired her as later in the newspapers there was an item about a poem she had written.
I then went on to the cloisters as I had a ticket for the musical item, and was quite glad I had to wear trousers as I had to sit on the grass about twenty yards from the Queen and Prince Phillip who seemed to enjoy the music as they were tapping their feet to it.
Two years later, just before Christmas, the East Anglian featured a competition to write a poem about the Cathedral Tower. I sat down the next day quite exhausted as I had been busy getting ready for the celebrations and wrote a poem, pure inspiration, in about half an hour. I was quite pleased with it so I sent it in. Several weeks later, I received a letter telling me I’d come joint runner up and would be meeting Princess Anne. This time I had time to buy a smart pink suede suit and white blouse, pink shoes and a handbag.
Princess Anne was lovely, very down to earth. My sister took some good photos, and we enjoyed the Words and Music concert at the Cathedral after the reception at the Athenaeum. The Princess asked me where I live in Bury and I told her, I had lived on the an estate on the outskirts of the town for forty years and that I had met her mother three years before. The inner was a farmer and the other runner up was a teacher.
I’m so glad I met them both, two lovely ladies. I stood right next to Prince Charles and Camilla when they came to Bury, but they were too engrossed in chatting to a group of old fans from Sandringham, who apparently followed them everywhere, at least as I told my mate, later, the Queen and the Princess came to Bury St Edmunds to see me.