Pens finer by far than mine have described the extraordinary sense of loss that so many of us are feeling in the wake of the Queen’s death. In an uncertain world she was one of the fixed points by which many of us, unconsciously, navigated our way through life. To lose that fixed point leaves us suddenly all at sea, without a compass.
Our family business has made gloves for the Queen for more than 70 years and we are proud indeed to have played even the tiniest role in such an immense story.
I have often been asked if I have ever actually met the Queen and - actually - yes - I have.
Our normal relationship is entirely managed by the redoubtable Angela Kelly, who looks after the Queen’s wardrobe and has been her long time confidante. However, some years ago the Royal Warrant Holders Association organised a Christmas Fair to be held at Buckingham Palace so that the people working at the palace - a few hundred in number - would have an opportunity to buy their Christmas presents from Royal Warrant holders.
In the afternoon of the second day of the fair, there was a rumour of a Royal visit. A sense of expectancy went round the room and, at a certain moment, I spied the familiar figure, small in stature and suited in emerald green, at the end of a long aisle. To my consternation, she appeared to be making a beeline straight for me.
In a matter of seconds I found myself in the Royal presence. I had no time to prepare myself and managed only a poorly executed and clumsy movement that was part curtsey, part bob.
“Good afternoon,” said the figure in green.
“Your Majesty, I am your glove maker”.
“I know exactly who you are” came the response.
Alas, the rest of the exchange is lost to history as I have absolutely no recollection of it. I was spellbound, completely in thrall to the luminescence of the figure opposite and I am left with a memory of a chance meeting that was almost magical.
Was I starstruck? Completely. Is this rational? Absolutely not. But my abiding impression is that this has been one of the few periods in history in which the role of the monarch, a role wreathed in history and mystery and splendour and which has evolved over more than a thousand years, has been entirely eclipsed by the personality of the occupier.
We have been so privileged.