Queen’s face ‘lit up’ recalling Paddington sketch – church minister

·3-min read

The Queen’s face “lit up” as she recalled her popular Platinum Jubilee sketch with Paddington Bear, a former Church of Scotland moderator has recalled.

The Very Rev Dr Martin Fair has told of his pride after he stayed with the late monarch at Balmoral Castle at the end of August just before her death on September 8.

He will lead a reflection service at the Kelpies near Falkirk on Sunday evening.

Dr Fair, who was moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland between 2020 and 2021, said the monarch was in “good spirits” as they had dinner at the Deeside royal estate during his visit from August 27 to 29.

New Kirk Moderator
Dr Martin Fair, former moderator of the Church of Scotland (Church of Scotland/PA)

Speaking on the eve of the special service, he said: “It was an enormous privilege to have spent time with her and finding her in such good spirits, bright and sharp, was a joy.

“We chatted about all manner of things from Scottish mountains to our respective dogs, the cost-of-living crisis and her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

“I asked her what her favourite bit had been and she answered, the ‘Trooping the Colour’.”

The minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church in Arbroath, Angus, then told the Queen his favourite Jubilee memory had been her now unforgettable tea party with children’s favourite Paddington Bear.

The sketch saw the Peruvian bear visit Buckingham Palace for afternoon tea, where the Queen shows him a marmalade sandwich from her handbag.

He said: “Her face lit up with the most radiant smile you could imagine, and she said, ‘it was rather fun, wasn’t it?’

“As I look back on that evening, I’m so glad that she was in such good form – smiling, laughing and enjoying the recounting of special memories.

Dr Fair also said his conversation with the Queen left him confident she knew how the people of Scotland thought of her.

“I said to her, ‘Ma’am I hope you know just how much you’re respected and loved across Scotland?

“The Queen paused for a moment then responded, ‘perhaps you’re right, after all, one has been around for quite a while’.

Royal family in Scotland
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited The Kelpies in 2017 (PA)

He added: “But she had a calm and gentle smile at that moment and I think she knew what I was saying and that she did know how much she was loved.”

At the prayer service on Sunday, 96 lanterns – one for each year of the Queen’s life – will be floated on the water surrounding the giant horse-head statues, followed by the laying of wreaths by Catherine Topley, chief executive of Scottish Canals.

The service, organised in partnership with the church and Falkirk Council, will be followed by a national minute’s silence at 8pm.

Lone piper Euan Thomson will then play A Salute To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to well-wishers as they disperse.

Dr Fair said: “I’m very much honoured to have been invited to speak at this special service to mark the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth and give thanks for her life.”