THE NIGHT I MET THE QUEEN

In 1983, my parents gave a dinner for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in Los Angeles. It was held on a soundstage at Twentieth Century Fox Studios and a set designer brought in live trees and other foliage to simulate a forest. As the date got closer, it became clear that my father would not be able to attend as he needed to stay in Washington DC. So my mother would be hosting it alone. I was invited, and I took a friend of mine as my date. What I did not get was an invitation for the receiving line where guests could meet the Queen and Prince Phillip. It was an abbreviated list since there were several hundred people at the event, and I have no idea who decided which guests should meet the Queen, but I strongly felt that I should be one of them.

So, I decided to just get in the line. My calculation was that my mother wouldn’t toss me out in front of the Queen of England — that would look like questionable parenting — so the chances were good that I would get to meet her. As I got closer to them, I felt the heat of my mother’s glare once she noticed me. I curtsied, shook Queen Elizabeth’s hand and then Prince Phillip’s. At which point my mother said, “Well. Hello, Patti. I’m surprised to see you.”

Queen Elizabeth gave me the most gentle smile and said, “I for one am very glad you’re here. It’s so nice to meet you.” I thanked her and as I walked on, I thought about how striking her kindness and her perceptiveness was. It was pretty clear by my mother’s frosty tone that we had a strained relationship, and the Queen of England made a point of trying to make me feel better. I have to confess, there was a part of me that wanted to say to her, “Can I come home with you? I’ll be good, I promise.”

This many years later, I see that moment in broader terms, as a portrait of a world leader who brought compassion and kindness to the task of leading. She didn’t hold herself above other people, or take on aloof airs, even though she was arguably the most powerful woman in the world. She was right there for a small, awkward moment and she tried to smooth it over. Many who worked with her have commented on how down-to-earth and considerate she was. Those qualities are why, I think, thousands and thousands of people in England are standing for hours, often in the rain, just to view her casket. When a good person dies, we hang on to their goodness. We reach for it, stand in the rain for it, hoping it will outlast their death. We are living in a time when kindness is becoming almost obsolete. We’re shocked when someone extends themselves, leads with compassion and attentiveness to other human beings. We have gotten shockingly accustomed to cruelty and avarice.

However people feel about the monarchy — and there are differing opinions — the woman who led the British empire for 70 years and never lost sight of the importance of kindness is gone. There are many people who had one moment with Queen Elizabeth and have held onto that moment like a bright beacon of hope. I’m one of them. She showed me in that moment who we are all capable of being if we just decide that kindness matters.

7 Responses to THE NIGHT I MET THE QUEEN

  1. Linda Pinsky says:

    In a split second the Queen realized what was going on with you and your mother. I am in awe how the queen supported u and validated you.! Kudos to the queen to share her kindness with you and put your mom in her place. Your mom’s behavior was uncalled for at that moment. I was surprised when u left 64 th st to go home to be with your dad and yet put yourself in direct shot of your mother and also have to deal with mother daughter issues. I understood as a few years later I did the same thing and moved back to CT to help my dad. My mother was much like yours,I get it. You are strong, smart and kind.you did the right thing. I did the right thing too. I savor those last years caring for my dad.

  2. liz pollock says:

    how nice – thanks for sharing patti…
    best wishes,
    liz pollock

  3. Nanci Hale says:

    Beautiful Patti. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Pamela Cameron says:

    Kindness and compassion are what love is all about. It’s sad that acts of kindness are often met with suspicion and cynicism. What made Queen Elizabeth a true monarch was her kindness. Beautiful story, Patti. I’m glad you got in that line! 💜

  5. Lydia Slatton says:

    Oh Patti that was one of the nicest and most heartfelt tributes I’ve heard of The Queen. God bless you. And God bless The Queen!

  6. Tim Daughtry says:

    As always your pieces are timely, relevant and fair. When the Queen died I was shocked at the contention and animosity some people exhibited without an ounce of humility, especially in her passing. To choose this time to try and denigrate her is classless. So glad you so eloquently expressed what I felt about her. Thanks for your continued relevancy through your writing.

  7. what a story, that was badass what u did! But I can’t believe ur mother had the gall to diss u in front of HM ! A true narcissist just like my mother, sigh.

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