Close encounters with The Queen

Union Flag

Keith Winestein shares his close encounters with The Queen.

In celebrating the Platinum Jubilee this week, I along with millions of people in communities around the country and across the Commonwealth am participating in a truly historic moment.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for seventy years. Never has a British monarch reigned for so long. For me, like most people, The Queen has always been in my life. Seen every Christmas Day on television, in TV drama, documentaries, films, newspapers, magazines, postage stamps, currency, and even on Twitter! She has been the topic of discussion, debate, nationwide jubilation and celebration.

Across communities in the United Kingdom and around the world, Platinum Jubilee parties, parades and processions are taking place, as people express their admiration and appreciation to thank Her Majesty for her longevity of service and commitment. And what’s not to like when there is a good excuse to have a party, let our hair down and connect with our friends and families.

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee logo

In the middle of the last century, in 1947, on her twenty-first birthday, The Queen made a pledge to serve her country and the Commonwealth for her entire life. She has honoured that vow, ever since, through many decades of serving communities throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

As a small boy of three, with Martha (Grandma) Riley, my childminder, I saw HM The Queen and HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh for the very first time in 1965. I remember waving to them in their Rolls Royce and Prince Philip pointing back towards me encouraging The Queen to wave back. The car was going through the traffic lights on York Road, as the royal couple were opening the new Seacroft Shopping Centre in Leeds.

During my boyhood, I sent numerous letters to Her Majesty, naturally childlike requests to take carriage rides up the Mall or wave from the balcony at Buckingham Palace. On more than one occasion I asked if I could have tea with the Queen. Although my requests were never acceded to, I possess a collection of letters, signed by a variety of ladies-in-waiting on heavy embossed paper and in envelopes with the Royal Coats of Arms. Over the years I have also built up an extensive collection of royal memorabilia, books and DVDs. Apparently, a large percentage of the UK population regularly dream about meeting the Queen, on average once a year, so I am far from being alone in my fascination for The Queen.

A second close encounter was when The Queen, dressed in yellow and wearing a large tiara, passed by in her tall domed Rolls Royce on her way to the Civic Hall, Leeds for a Silver Jubilee reception in 1977. During this century I have observed The Queen leaving by the side gate in her Rolls Royce from the Chelsea Flower Show when I lived opposite the Royal Hospital, home of the Chelsea Pensioners. Strangely Prince Philip left separately, often driving his own London Cab!

Picture of The Queen wearing a pink coat and hat, holding flowers

A few years ago, I had the closest encounter when representing the mental health charity Mind at the Royal Garden Party in Buckingham Palace. I was privileged to be presented to HRH The Princess Alexandra, Minds Patron. Unfortunately I did not meet the Queen personally, but I did see the Royal Couple talk to other guests that afternoon. As it approached 6pm, I was given the nod by an Equerry who shared with me the route the Queen would take when leaving the Royal Enclosure to walk back across the lawn to Buckingham Palace. I waited patiently as the Equerry, armed with only a rolled umbrella as a measuring guide, arranged the waiting guards into an immaculate straight line. I was honoured to be so close to The Queen on this special occasion and dutifully bowed my head as Her Majesty smiled and passed by.

It is mind blowing to comprehend just how many people The Queen has met during her long life. Practically every Head of State on the planet, historical figures, films stars, musicians, Nobel Prize Winners, extraordinary ordinary people who have done courageous or charitable things. It is unfathomable. Elizabeth the Second has been a constant. Always there during a reign which has seen so many changes in every conceivable field. No other person living, has met so many people of significance, however briefly. It is mind boggling.

An image from Art Save The Queen exhibition at gallery@oxo

The Queen wearing sunglasses

On 6 February 2022 Her Majesty became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee marking seventy years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, her other Realms, and the Commonwealth. To celebrate this unprecedented anniversary events and initiatives will take place throughout the year culminating in a four-day bank holiday weekend.

Official Diary of Platinum Jubilee Events


The Queen's Green Canopy

A spectacular 21-metre Tree of Trees sculpture featuring 350 British native trees will be created outside Buckingham Palace as an exciting centrepiece of The Queen’s Green Canopy 

Thursday 2 June

The Queen’s Birthday Parade Trooping the Colour is when more than 850 soldiers 200 horses and 300 musicians will come together in the traditional parade to mark The Queen's official birthday. Following the parade will be a military flypast featuring more than 70 aircraft, which is more than three times the number of aircraft that took part in the Queen’s last birthday parade in 2019.

Thursday 2 June

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Beacons

Thursday 2 -12 June

Art Save The Queen

Curated by Ad Lib Gallery at gallery@oxo 

Thursday 2 June

St John's Churchyard from 8:30pm  for community singing, socialising and fevered expectation of the moment (9.45pm) when local choirs will join to sing the song! Everyone is invited. A beacon will be lit so bring your own food, drink and celebrate.

Friday 3 June

Saint Paul's Cathedral Service of Thanksgiving

Friday 3 June

Bankside Open Spaces Festival!

The festival starts at 12pm with a very special Service of Remembrance which marks the fifth anniversary of the attacks on London Bridge and Borough Market.

Friday & Saturday 3-4 June

The Epsom Derby 

Saturday 4 June

The Platinum Party at the Palace

This promises to be an occasion to remember, playing a central part in a weekend of pageantry, parades, and street parties. It will be broadcast live on BBC1, BBC iPlayer and across the entire BBC network

Sunday 5 June

The Big Jubilee Lunch 

However you wish to observe and commemorate this one in a lifetime event, I hope you will join with me in wishing Her Majesty the most marvellous Jubilee and like me thank her for being in our lives for seventy years of unprecedented service.

For more events in London check out Time Out

Coronation Platinum Jubilee 2023

Next year will see the seventieth anniversary of Her Majesty’s Coronation which took place on 6 June 1953. Time for another celebration, I think!