I was very fortunate to be involved with three events attended by Her Majesty the Queen and have vivid memories of some memorable moments from behind the scenes, which no one would know actually happened.
The first event was the official reception before the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. We were briefed by the Palace organising team to please have a waiter on standby with G&T in case her Majesty would like a drink at the end of the reception, but it was not to appear on any runsheets.
So we did, and I’m pretty she had a sip – the waiter told me after!! But it was done in another room with no one present, so no one would have seen it.
I was politely informed by the Palace that Her Majesty never eats or drinks in a public forum. The more I think about it, the more you go – ‘that’s right, you never see her do that’.
The Queen first opened the children’s hospital in 1963 and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was a part of that opening – Her family has been major contributors to the hospital for over 60 years. Dame Elisabeth was again invited to attend the event at the age of 98 but was not part of the official meet and greet, which took place when the Queen arrived.
On the day, we received word the Dame Elisabeth was in attendance and needed to be seated on the aisle, four rows back from the stage. This was done, but it was not until the Queen was leaving that we understood what this actually meant. When the Queen was walking down the aisle, she paused for a moment at row four and touched Dame Elisabeth on the shoulder, and then moved on. It was all over in 15 seconds.
A smile came on Dame Elisabeth’s face and the significance of that moment and the thought that went into it is something all of us involved will never forget.
The Federation Square walk-through was amazing and you’ll be happy to know all the flowers collected were taken back to both the Children’s and Epworth hospital and not thrown away.
And the famous tram ride. In our discussion with the Palace team, we talked about what you do when you get on a tram – in relation to the use your myki card.
To our amazement, they actually took it on board, and when the Queen and Prince Phillip hopped on the tram, one of the aides took out two myki cards and touched on!! Mind you, there was no one else on the tram, but again, the significance of a small gesture was not lost as the media captured that moment.
After all of this I was asked – did you meet her and what is she like. The answer is no, I didn’t but I remember only too well the positive impact those experiences had on me.
I think it was one of the very few times I was in awe of the person attending the event, to the point when you go ‘this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’
Regardless of your political position on the monarchy, all I personally can say is that you can only admire what role the Queen has played over the last 70 years.
Everyone will have a story about the Queen – this has been mine.