My mother and the Queen

It feels somewhat synchronous to me, that my mother and the Queen both passed in the same year.

The Queen was five years older than my mother, but their birthdays were only three days apart. Both Taurus – I can only vouch for my mother but I’m sure the Queen was also stubborn and determined.

They both grew up in families of all girls – my mother the youngest of three, the Queen the older of two.

In their younger years, they had similar hairdos – although I think in the 1940s there were limited options for women to style their hair.

They were both married to one man for a long time, although their weddings, like their funerals, were on a very different scale.

My mother was thrilled to receive a card from the Queen on the occasion of her 60th wedding anniversary. I remember her telling me she had taken the card to show her friends and neighbours up the street and how disappointed she was that no-one said, “Oh Beryl, isn’t that great?” Instead people said things like, “Oh, my husband isn’t well. We will never get to 60 years,” or “We married so late in life, we’ll never get to 60 years.” Who does that, bringing down someone in a moment of happiness? She had a card from the Queen for heaven’s sake!

They both had four children – my mother had three girls and one boy; the Queen, one girl and three boys. They were both probably a lot tougher on their children than they were on their grandchildren. In fact I’m sure I saw an interview with (the then) Prince Charles and Princess Anne talking about their mother’s completely different attitude to the grandchildren. I certainly saw my mother behave the same way, rewarding and indulging the grandchildren for behaviour I would have been smacked for.

I think both my mother and the Queen had a strong sense of duty, of doing what’s right. Although the Queen grew up in a much more privileged situation than my mother, I think they both had similar values. I know they both loved dogs.

The Queen’s life was celebrated with a state funeral attended by heads of state. My mother’s funeral was small but full of people who knew her personally, although as we observed in her eulogy, she outlived her husband, her sisters, and most of her friends.

People will remember the Queen as the face of a nation, as a representative of the Commonwealth, an image on coins and stamps and currency.

People will remember my mother for her open table, her generosity with food, her hospitality, her readiness to have a laugh.

The passing of the Queen brings up a range of feelings about my mother’s passing again.

Two women who never met but who are linked in my mind.

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