Memories of the royals and my family through the years

There seemed to be so much more emphasis on the Royal Family when I was younger. The Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 was a huge occasion at school and at home. I still have the souvenirs to prove it.

We lived next to a main road, and on the little side road leading to our houses my neighbourhood hosted a street party for that special event. We had loads of decorated tables outside our little stretch with bunting and Union Jack table cloths. My memories of that day are of great fun.

Then there was the visit of Prince Charles to our town. I can't remember why he visited but we knew from his published route that he would be driving along the road outside our house as he made his way to his next appointment. We waited excitedly on the grass verge after school with paper Union Jacks. When he drove by, he was in a Rolls-Royce with the roof down. He waved straight at us, and I got a photograph which I thought would be wonderful. Unfortunately, when it was developed, you could only see the back of his head and the side of his nose! I remember running the length of the grass verge with my flag until he was out of sight. I was so excited that my Mum and I went inside to have tea and discussed it non-stop for hours.

The wedding of Charles and Diana was a big day in our house. Dad even bought a bigger television for the occasion - what a treat! Mum and I watched all the preparation and the cars going down the Mall, wishing we could be part of the huge crowds lining the streets. I can remember my disappointment when she got out of the car and her whole dress looked creased. We watching the whole ceremony and I loved and treasured every moment. When the ceremony was over we watched the famous balcony appearance and enjoyed "that" kiss.

Then, half an hour afterwards, I turned back into a normal teenager and went down to the fields to meet my friends. We all chatted happily about our thoughts on the dress, the ceremony and what everyone else was wearing. The scrapbook I made and the souvenir supplement from the Daily Mirror still remains in my wardrobe in my childhood bedroom. I also have a mug emblazoned with Charles and Diana. It's just the right size to mix my gravy granules in, which sounds quite disrespectful, but after years of sitting on a shelf I'm glad to have finally found a use for it.

Then there was my meeting with Princess Margaret. I was about 20 and working for a large company. We had raised a lot of money for charity and I was picked to represent my section. We went for lunch and then afternoon tea at the Dorchester and Princess Margaret was the special guest. I was so nervous, but when I found myself standing next to her and chatting, I felt at ease straightaway. I was surprised to find she was quite 'normal'. She did open her handbag at one point and, typical girl, I had a look inside. There was a very nice cigarette box and a nice crisp white cotton handkerchief and nothing else - not even a lipstick. I expect her lady in waiting carried all that.

I do have a few memories of the Royal Family, but the most memorable for me will always be meeting the Queen. She was visiting her cousin at his Staffordshire home. Lord Lichfield, who took the photos at the wedding of Charles and Diana. She agreed to do a walk round one afternoon and we were all allowed out of school early if we wanted to go. The anticipation of her visit was amazing. My next-door neighbour drove me, as we didn't have a car, and we arrived early enough to get a spot right at the front of the growing crowd. Again, I had a flag to wave and it was so exciting!

When she appeared, I leaned right over the barricade so I could get the best view. It paid off! She saw me with my feet on the bottom rung of the barrier leaning over so far, that she came over and spoke to me. She asked me my name and which school I went to and that was it - but I don't think I will EVER forget it.

It all seems so different now. Of course there are sections of the British public who still love and admire the Royal Family as I did, but in my own family they are talked about very little.

My son who is 12 has no real concept of the Royal Family and doesn't understand why they exist, what they do, why they should be respected and why we celebrate these royal occasions with such flamboyance.

He wasn't bothered about the wedding of Will and Kate and he doesn't seem bothered by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I haven't heard of any staged events at his school and the supplements that come out just go straight into the recycling bin.

We are doing a couple of things as a family which may raise a little bit of interest. On Jubilee Day we are attending a church event and there will be a "Big Lunch" street party. We are also having a small gathering and a barbecue on our estate, which I expect there will be a bit of bunting around.

However, in spite of us taking part in these celebrations, these events are being themed with the Jubilee simply because of the date on which they fall. We would have partaken in these events regardless - Jubilee or no Jubilee.

I do feel sad that my son has no interest in the Royal Family. I have always found the royals to be really interesting, although if I am honest, when he asks why they exist, I can't really explain it either. Some of it is our fault. I suppose we could have sat him down to explain a bit more and given him some books to read perhaps on the history of the Royal Family. We have taken him to Buckingham Palace which he enjoyed, but he also enjoyed the other sights, too, and felt no particular passion that he had seen the home of the Queen.

I am not going to force him to follow the royals and to keep up with tradition. I think children these days have so many things; from gadgets to phones and the like, that the Royal Family aren't necessarily on their minds. People in general have lost touch with reality and the simple things that used to mean so much.

The country has changed a lot since I was a girl - and is it all for the better? Of that, I am not so sure.


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