The Sun Rises on a New Era (OS020)

The sun has regrettably set on the long reign of Her Majesty the Queen and has risen for King Charles III. It’s hard to witness the last two weeks without having enormous respect for the Royal Family carrying out their duties at a time when I’m sure many would want to mourn privately. They’ve travelled to the four corners of the UK, enthusiastically met hundreds of members of the public, been watched by millions, hosted foreign dignitaries, marched in numerous processions and attended several church services.
When I was young, I saw the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. I was taken to stand at the roadside by Clifton Park, Rotherham to watch them drive sedately past. The Rolls Royce had massive windows and they were clearly visible waving to the crowds. I remember waving back with one hand, ice cream in the other.

How do they do it, spend so long driving slowly past crowds without stopping for a brew or attending to other matters? I can’t make it to Manchester without calling in a café for a drink etc. Maybe the grand old Rolls-Royce is secretly a mini campervan. Perhaps they pull up, draw the curtains, get security to stand around the vehicle and get the kettle on (or whatever).

Their life certainly has its ups and downs:

• Driving – Police clear the roads for them which would be great for the Manchester rush hours but then they drive around at five miles per hour.
• Snacks – I guess they can’t just pull into a MacDonalds when they feel peckish or just want a cold Pepsi. Maybe, they have a chef in another camper behind them who can knock up a snack on the go (or maybe they just ask security to nip in).
• Food – Sometimes, all you want is beans on toast. You can keep your fancy meals and indigestion thanks.
• Shopping – It’s said they call into shops in Windsor or Balmoral where they are well known but could they nip into a paper shop for the latest country life magazine and does everywhere they call want a Royal Warrant? Could be a pain (and expensive).
• Voicing an opinion – Prince Charles had opinions, agree with them or not, about the environment and architecture etc, etc. King Charles has to keep it to himself now (or maybe he will just vent his opinions to the PM).

Should ‘Royal Family Member’ ever come up as a position on LinkedIn or wherever, that’s one job I won’t be applying for.

I’ve also seen another member of the Royal Family. Some years ago, I was working in the Midlands. The company, I worked for had a visit from Princess Royal. It was a large IT department and one day, management came up to talk to us all. Everyone knew that ‘something’ was happening weeks before. The canteen was closed for a day and the next day the brown stained tiles were now white, the floors cleaned, there was new cutlery and the segment of burger which had been fermenting in the corner of the canteen for eighteen months had disappeared.

The director, with two security guards, announced that the Princess Royal would be paying the company a visit and would be landing in the car park in a helicopter. Two staff fainted, one hid under their desk, one member of staff ran wildly around the department shouting unintelligibly. He was escorted from the building by the two security guards. Management was prepared this time, informing the dept at the last possible moment and having the guards on hand. I guess they were prepared from the last time this happened, when management announced the department were getting a new coffee machine on the floor.

The day of the visit arrived and a large Westland helicopter landed in the car park. It was a huge chunk of metal and created quite a wind. I remember thinking that the Princess Royal must think that up north we are all dusty and have hair like Ken Dodd or Kate Bush.

I think she was greeted by the Mayor and proceeded to walk into the building. She was smiley and I was happy to; smile, bow, curtsy whatever and applaud (as instructed). At one point, it looked like she was going to approach me. Totally unprepared for this, my look of panic must have caused her to reassess and divert, walking into the building. It was all over in a flash and we returned to our IBM workstations.

Interestingly, the company I worked for was built on land which was previously a coal pit, when such things existed. That was when coal was economically viable and was dirty but not a dirty word. I understand the Queen had once visited there. Apparently, that was intensively cleaned for the visit also. Even the coal was whitewashed.

… Oliver Sudden

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