The day I met the Queen
3 June 2014
by Charlotte Morrell
It's 29 May and I'm on the train to London. I can't count the number of times I've checked that I definitely have got my ID and invitation.
When my manager first approached me to represent Leonard Cheshire's front line staff at St. James's Palace, where I would meet Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, I was blown away. And then for me to be one of the selected people who they would speak to personally, well, I think I virtually floated off somewhere. I just couldn't believe someone had picked me!
I arrive at the hotel and attempt to relax, but I'm so jittery I can't stay still. (No more coffee for me!) Fortunately I have some time to get myself together and to practice my curtsey. I can't wait to be there.
We arrive at the palace I try to absorb it all. The atmosphere, the tapestries and chandeliers, all the beauty and glamour. I feel very privileged. We're quickly escorted into the different rooms, I'm handed a glass of champagne (won't drink too much of this too soon) and walked through into the Entree room where our chief executive Clare Pelham meets me and helps me feel at ease. We're soon told to prepare and line up, but it's supposed to be relaxed and natural, so we continue chatting to other guests while waiting in line.
It is hard to describe what happened next and how it felt to be met by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. It was surreal and yet at the same time so completely natural. They have a way of helping you feel at ease — which, when there is protocol to follow, can be quite a tricky thing to manage. I didn't want to be too relaxed and put my foot in my mouth. I was concentrating so hard on this that I can't actually remember what the Queen asked me, or what I said in response, but I know I was trying not to ramble, so I probably was! I remember she shook my hand and I'll never forget that. Then His Royal Highness spoke to me. I know I accidentally made him laugh, which while embarrassing was also wonderfully normal.
The whole evening was so enjoyable and I spoke with some very interesting and amazing people. People who had been through so much and experienced appalling discrimination who, with the help of Leonard Cheshire, have fought for equality and they continue to fight as we must do.
I wish I could express how amazing this night was to all those who work in front line care, but words cannot do it justice. I wish my colleagues could all have been there, and want to remind them to not ever forget what an amazing job they do.