Queen Elizabeth II
It has now been a week since the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and just like many people, I have been reflecting on her life and what she meant to me. I wouldn't describe myself as a royalist but at the same time I have always enjoyed the idea of the monarchy as one of the cornerstones of the United Kingdom. The other thought that comes to mind is that the Queen has been ever present throughout my life, and so for the reins of power to now be passed onto Charles seems a somewhat strange concept to get my head around.
In my professional life, I was lucky enough to photograph her three times. The first as a junior photographer while on my first paper, the Scarborough Evening News, when she visited Bishop Burton College in July 2002, her Golden Jubilee year, to officially open its Animal Management Centre. Digging through my archive, I was slightly miffed by the lack of sharpness and amount of images that I took.
My second sighting of Her Majesty came a decade on in 2012. Along with Prince Phillip, she visited the Tees Barrage at Stockton to unveil a newly refurbished white water rafting course. Dressed in a peach-coloured outfit and carrying her trademark handbag, she was greeted by hundreds of school children.
The third and final occasion was somewhat unplanned and also in the year of her Diamond Jubilee, a few days after my previous encounter. I was fortunate enough to cover the London Olympics that year and while stationed in the Aquatic Centre, she suddenly appeared on a balcony while being given a tour of the facility.
Strangely all three occasions were in July which adds to the warmness with which I shall remember her. She clearly made an impression on many people and given the length of her 70 year reign, in which time she never appeared to make the headlines for the wrong reasons, I think that it is only in her passing that we will fully appreciate her legacy.