The day I met the Queen | Features News

I acquired right into a taxi one afternoon in November 2007 — a type of black cabs London is known for. I used to be all dressed up, a flower in my hair, and was carrying two yellow roses tinged with crimson that I had taken from a flower association.

“You look beautiful,” the driving force mentioned to me, glancing in his rear-view mirror. “You going someplace particular?”

“Really, I simply got here from someplace — I met the queen,” I mentioned. He checked out me, longer this time, and informed me how fortunate I used to be.

“Some folks reside to be 100 and by no means meet the Queen.”

That’s when the magnitude of the day actually hit me; Queen Elizabeth II, then aged 81, had already been on the throne for 55 years. She had steered the UK from post-WWII poverty and devastation, by means of the transformation from an Empire to a Commonwealth, by means of the tip of the twentieth century and into the twenty first.

The Queen was the patron of the London school I had attended the earlier 12 months and was coming to go to, and I used to be one of many fortunate alumni invited.

Queen Elizabeth at the Royal College of Defence Studies
Commandant of the faculty, Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, takes the queen on a tour of the grand institution in central London in 2007 [File: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images]

We had been informed to reach early for a protocol briefing.

We had been positioned in small, pre-determined teams organized by the faculty with the format communicated to Buckingham Palace workers, as was the norm for such occasions.

The faculty secretary went by means of the record of dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t contact Her Majesty until she affords her hand
  • Don’t converse until spoken to
  • Name her ‘Your Majesty’ the primary time, then ma’am as in rhymes with jam
  • Don’t flip your again on the Queen
  • Don’t ask private questions
  • Don’t speak about politics or information (there was an inquiry into the loss of life of Princess Diana underway)

After every level, the secretary would look sharply at me, as if I might be the one to embarrass the faculty within the presence of the Queen.

“One factor Her Majesty doesn’t get pleasure from,” he informed the 100 or so of us gathered, “is to have a room go silent when she enters.” He instructed us to please hold speaking to one another in well mannered tones when she arrived.

I wasn’t involved we might go silent. This room was skilled — diplomats, army officers, senior authorities officers, all well-practiced within the artwork of small speak.

Prince Philip had accompanied the Queen and got here to talk with our group first whereas she was in one other room. I don’t bear in mind a lot of what was mentioned, besides that it was well mannered, perfunctory, and he was very tall.

Quickly after, the imposing wood doorways main into the room swung open and there she was — Queen Elizabeth II.

The gentleman I had been talking with a second earlier than went silent, so did the remainder of our group.

“No, no,” I mentioned in a soothing tone. “Hold speaking — it doesn’t matter about what — speak to one another about what you had for breakfast, however hold speaking.”

The faculty commandant, a knighted former admiral, accompanied Her Majesty and commenced to introduce our group. When he got here to a Romanian diplomat, the Queen mentioned, “Ah sure, didn’t we meet earlier than?” and talked about a earlier perform whose particulars I now overlook. The Romanian diplomat was delighted, breaking right into a smile as she mentioned “Sure Ma’am” (as in jam).

Queen Elizabeth in 2007
Queen Elizabeth ll meets members and workers as she visits the UK’s Defence Academy on November 9, 2007, in London, England [File: Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage]

I don’t know whether or not the Queen had been well-briefed or truly remembered the assembly, however I recall marvelling at how shortly she had put everybody relaxed. Tens of hundreds of occasions she had been on the centre of occasions like this and he or she appeared curious and glad, centered simply on us.

She was carrying a tan and cream skirt swimsuit, and somebody got here and positioned a glass of cranberry juice into her gloved fingers — cream-coloured gloves. The glass was VERY full, and as she chatted with others in our group, I feared it might spill — nobody had informed me the etiquette for that.

Might I point out it? Dare I? That might be talking earlier than spoken to AND interrupting. What if she spilled and I hadn’t mentioned something? The commandant saved the day, gently eradicating the juice and changing it with a less-full glass.

As I contemplated the protocol points, the Queen turned to me.

“And I perceive you’re the solely journalist to ever have attended right here,” she mentioned, earlier than asking me why. “Who wouldn’t need to come right here Your Majesty?” I mentioned, gesturing to these standing in our semi-circle. “You’ve an Indonesian army officer subsequent to a Turkish diplomat, subsequent to a Romanian one,” I mentioned, going by means of our complete group, saying there wasn’t one other course on the planet that would have supplied me this.

She requested me who paid my tuition, as others had been sponsored by their international locations or organisations. “I did,” I mentioned.

Queen Elizabeth II with Admiral Sir Ian Garnett at the Royal College Of Defence Studies in 2007
Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, are taken on a tour of the UK’s Defence Academy by the Commandant of the Faculty, Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, on November 9, 2007, in London, England [File: Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA/WireImage]

After which she moved on.

I felt as if I had hit a diplomatic dwelling run — in entrance of the Queen no much less. I had remembered everybody’s particulars, acquired to incorporate the entire group in our chat — no gaffes, no embarrassment.

Later, we watched as she and Prince Philip descended the grand onyx staircase and took their go away.

Nonetheless feeling fairly happy with myself, I went to the eating room for lunch. As I used to be nearly to select up a sandwich, the commandant got here in and mentioned, “What did you say to Her Majesty?” within the booming authoritative tone of a former army commander.

“Me? I didn’t say something about something,” I stammered, wracking my mind about how I might have tousled. “As I used to be escorting her out, Her Majesty requested about why you paid your solution to come right here,” the commandant mentioned.

I informed him she had requested me the preliminary query and I had answered.

“Does that imply I’ll get a refund?”

“No,” he answered emphatically.

The Queen had spoken to at the very least 100 folks after our temporary encounter — I used to be astonished that she remembered that element.

There are pictures of that day, however none of me talking with the Queen. Perhaps it’s higher that manner.

For a couple of moments, I used to be within the presence of a lady who had seen greater than most of us would see in 100 lifetimes. I regarded into her curious and smiling eyes, watched as she laughed together with a few of my colleagues, and I felt her real sense of responsibility and obligation.

She left an indelible mark.

What should Ukraine expect from UK’s PM Truss? | Russia-Ukraine war

Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was one of many first overseas leaders Prime Minister Liz Truss talked to since occupying the UK’s prime workplace.

“Ukraine can rely on the UK for help in the long run,” she said on Twitter after their telephone dialog on Tuesday.

And the primary overseas chief Zelenskyy known as when Russia invaded Ukraine in February was Truss’s predecessor, Boris Johnson.

The rapprochement between Kyiv and London has grow to be one of many struggle’s silver linings, and Johnson was welcomed in Ukraine as a nationwide hero.

“The UK stands with Ukraine” was the pinned submit on Johnson’s Twitter account throughout his three-year-long tenure as prime minister, and sunflowers symbolising Ukraine had been displayed within the home windows of his Downing Avenue residence.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy and Johnson meet in Kyiv [File: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters]

Johnson was one of many first political heavyweights to go to Ukraine after the struggle started, and Ukrainians appreciated it by naming a road and a pastry after him.

They barely observed the scandal that led to his downfall, and Zelenskyy mourned the tip of his tenure.

“All of us heard this information with disappointment. Not solely me, but in addition your entire Ukrainian society, which could be very sympathetic to you. We now have little doubt that Nice Britain’s help might be preserved, however your private management and charisma made it particular,” the Ukrainian chief mentioned in July.

So, what shall Ukraine anticipate from Johnson’s successor?

“A continuation of the strategic partnership coverage and a lift of navy and monetary support,” Kyiv-based analyst Aleksey Kushch informed Al Jazeera.

The UK is free from commitments to the European Union and is way much less depending on Russia’s hydrocarbon exports than continental Europe.

Below Johnson, London threw its political weight behind the nascent anti-Russian bloc of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania – and that’s one thing Truss is anticipated to proceed.

“Britain will play a stabilising position within the Baltic-Black Sea axis, Kushch mentioned.

Different pundits agree.

A service member of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic
The self-proclaimed Donetsk Individuals’s Republic fires a Giatsint-B howitzer within the course of Avdiivka [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

“Nice Britain is making an attempt to construct its zone of affect in continental Europe, by way of Poland, Ukraine and farther into the Black Sea basin,” Ihar Tyshkevich of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, a Kyiv-based think-tank, informed Al Jazeera.

“As a result of these pursuits stay, one can’t anticipate that the brand new British prime minister to alter GB’s insurance policies swiftly,” he mentioned.

Different analysts are much more optimistic about her.

“It’s Johnson doubled,” analyst Oleksander Kraev wrote in an op-ed printed by the UNIAN information company on Tuesday. “She has already promised to grow to be Ukraine’s largest pal.”

Predictably, Moscow doesn’t foresee any political thaws in ties with London.

“There isn’t a likelihood to say that Liz Truss will in some way enhance Russian-British ties,” Russian lawmaker Dmitry Novikov reportedly mentioned.

What is way extra vital for Ukraine’s rapid wants is the navy support London has offered – and can proceed to offer.

Workers collect debris from a psychiatric hospital
Employees acquire particles from a psychiatric hospital after it was hit by a missile in Kramatorsk [File: Juan Barreto/AFP]

Typically appearing faster than different Western backers, the UK has already provided M270 multiple-launch rocket programs, Mastiff armoured automobiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles and counter-battery radar programs.

A whole bunch of UK-made target-spotting micro-drones enhance precision strikes, and the Harpoon anti-ship missile programs London helped present have already sunk a number of Russian ships within the Black Sea.

Mine-hunting programs assist detect Russian mines in seawater whereas British trawlers assist Ukrainian cargo ships take grain by way of Bosporus.

A whole bunch of anti-aircraft and anti-tank “loitering” missiles have additionally been deadly to Russian servicemen and gear.

London’s navy support bundle reached 2.3 billion kilos ($2.8bn) whereas it pledged to coach 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen each three months at a navy base in southeastern England whose location has not been publicised.

“Everybody noticed [the assistance] from the perspective of initiatives, help and private instance” set by Johnson, Lieutenant Normal Ihor Romanenko, the previous deputy chief of Ukraine’s normal workers of armed forces, informed Al Jazeera.

“We actually hope that the management and the initiatives in supplying arms and coaching personnel will proceed,” he mentioned.

Truss, who served as Johnson’s overseas minister, has been instrumental in securing the provides.

“My message to our G7 and NATO allies right now is easy,” she mentioned on Twitter in early April.

“The one factor Putin understands is energy. Along with our allies, we’re maintaining the strain up with extra sanctions, weapons and ending imports of Russian vitality,” she mentioned.

She did, nonetheless, face a humiliating gaffe associated to Ukraine.

Liz Truss waves as she leaves Conservative Party HQ after being announced as the party's next leader and becoming UK prime minister
Truss served as overseas secretary beneath Johnson [File: Phil Noble/Reuters]

Throughout her journey to Moscow in early February, Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov trolled her by asking whether or not the UK would recognise Moscow’s rule over Voronezh and Rostov – two areas in western Russia.

Having mistaken them for Donetsk and Luhansk, two Ukrainian provinces partly managed by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, she replied that London would “by no means recognise Russian sovereignty over these areas”, the Kommersant each day reported.

Lavrov ridiculed Truss throughout their information convention, saying their dialog was like “a mute speaking to a deaf”, and Russian media adopted go well with mocking her.

Hours later, Truss needed to give you a clarification.

“In the course of the assembly, it appeared to me that minister Lavrov was speaking about part of Ukraine. I’ve clearly indicated that these areas are a part of sovereign Russia,” she mentioned.

However regardless of her data of Russia’s geography, Ukraine does prime her agenda.

She talked in regards to the struggle with US President Joe Biden throughout their first telephone dialog.

They “mentioned the significance of continued shut cooperation on world challenges, together with supporting Ukraine because it defends itself in opposition to Russian aggression”, the White Home mentioned in a press release.

Common Ukrainians will not be very accustomed to Truss, who grew to become Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years. However some assume that she will be able to increase her personal political standing by serving to Kyiv.

“We’ll see what she will be able to do for us,” retired librarian Oksana Lipnitskaya informed Al Jazeera. “England has all the time been anti-Russia, and serving to Ukraine is form of trendy nowadays.”