RAF Benevolent Fund Housing Executive Tim Bevan's meeting with HRH the Queen was broadcast worldwide – no pressure then! In this guest blog, he recounts the tale...
With Her Majesty's 90th birthday looming, I am reminded of the day I had the honour and privilege of meeting my ultimate "Boss". It was Armistice Day in 1998, the 70th Anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War.
The venue was the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium and attended by our Queen, King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium and the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.
It was the last significant date of remembrance to include the last remaining British veterans of the war; there were 20 veterans present, including Arthur Hailstrap, Robert Burns, Harry Patch and our own Henry Allingham who were all over 100 years of age and hosted as usual by the remarkable Lynn McDonald, author of numerous books on the battles of the First World War.
After the traditional ceremony of The Last Post, performed by the Ypres Fire Department Voluntary Buglers, and as the appointed Royal wreath bearer, I accompanied Her Majesty to lay her wreath of remembrance at the foot of the memorial stairway. This was, as you can imagine, a daunting moment in my RAF career as the service was being broadcast by the BBC (and others) to a worldwide audience.
From there to the magnificent Ypres Cloth Hall (Town Hall), rebuilt to the precise specification as it was before its obliteration during the war where I and other colleagues were presented to their Majesties. This is where the photograph was taken and the bemused expression on our Queen's face is due to the fact I failed to reply to her question "… and you are??" as I was completely starstruck!