I’m not much of a Royalist, don’t really have strong opinions on the monarchy one way or the other. Kind of in the middle, like most people I guess. Have respect for the queen for managing for so many decades to look interested in the tedious small-talk she has to constantly engage in. She has skills I could never acquire. She also has various palaces etc, which I could never hope to acquire either.
I don’t get that overly respectful thing, and a letter in the Press today made me roll my eyes in disbelief and sympathise with people who perhaps don’t want to don their robes and tug their forelocks and get down on bended knee.
It is however always memorable when the monarch visits. Because of small local details, all a bit medieval and mysterious, but worth further research if you’re interested. Apparently, ‘when entering York the Queen has to stop at Micklegate Bar and ask permission from the Lord Mayor to enter the city’. Which clearly is just a formality now, as it’s not like anyone’s going to say ‘no, get back on the train to that London place’.
Even if you’re not a royalist, it’s worth being around Micklegate Bar when a monarch is visiting. In 2000 when the Queen visited I was working on Priory Street, and so walking up to Micklegate Bar wasn’t too arduous. The sound of music came from it – The York Waits I think – that’s the bit I remember most.
My mum remembers a visit when the queen wasn’t the queen, but was still Princess Elizabeth, in 1949. She said that Elizabeth was very beautiful, had lovely make-up, and she recalled an outfit of grey silk with white piping.
There’s more on the 1949 visit on the Press website. Perhaps surprisingly, it appears to have involved a visit to the ‘prefabs’ of York.
Another fondly remembered visit was in 1971. These pages include an account of that visit, written by my sister.