When I heard Queen Elizabeth passed away last week at the age of 96, I was saddened, and I had a flashback to the only time I saw the most regal and elegant woman in the world in person–or so I thought.
It was the spring of 1987, and I was young, naive, and an embarrassingly green newspaper reporter. I was on a special assignment with three other older and well-seasoned American journalists in London, England. As we were being driven from Heathrow Airport to a downtown London hotel—I think it was the Westbury–we slowly pulled alongside a motorcade—it was the British monarchy. I remember glancing over and seeing this majestic, older woman in a powdered blue dress with a stylish hat that sat atop a neat mixture of white locks on her head. At about the same time, she glanced at me and cracked a slight smile. One of the other journalists said, “That’s Queen Elizabeth.” Like a star-struck little boy, I looked over again and said, “Oh, Wow! It really is the Queen!” The Car and the Queen lurched forward and took off. Later, I found it wasn’t Queen Elizabeth but an even more revered and esteemed pillar of British royalty–her mother, Queen Elizabeth-the Queen Mother, affectionately called the “Queen Mum.” She passed away in 2002 at the age of 101.
WUSA9The Queen visited Alice Frazier’s home during her 10-day state visit to the White House
Perhaps my most vivid and memorable image of the most recently departed Queen Elizabeth was her visit to the Washington DC and Maryland area in 1991. I remember seeing several photos and videos of the Queen being embraced and hugged by a woman named Alice Frazier. The images and stories were so striking that they made international headlines. According to Royal family protocol, it is forbidden and considered heresy for someone to touch—let alone hug or embrace the Queen. Mrs. Frazier took it further, cooked fried chicken and made potato salad for her majesty, who politely declined the down-home dinner invitation. “I just want her to know that we are happy that she is here and that we love her,” Mrs. Frazier said during an interview at the time.
At any rate, Queen Elizabeth was the longest serving British monarch, serving for 70 years and 214 days. She rarely, if ever, gave interviews. It was difficult for the world to gauge her feelings about some situations. Despite dozens of public scandals, family controversy, and criticism for her steely and stern general demeanor, she remained solid, calm. She was the glue that held a frequently disjointed royal family together. Long live the Queen!