Long Did She Reign

By Richard Mineards   |   September 20, 2022

This is an article I had hoped I wouldn’t be writing for a few years more, the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96, after an extraordinary reign of more than 70 years.

I had wished that, given the Scottish Bowes-Lyon genes from the earls of Strathmore, like her mother who was nearly 102 when she died in 2002, that Britain’s much beloved monarch would at least reach 100, which her husband of more than 70 years, Prince Philip, missed by just a few weeks when he moved to more heavenly pastures in April last year.

I have been lucky enough to have covered the Royal Family for more than 45 years, having started when I was a district chief reporter at the Cambridge Evening News in 1974, reporting on the Badminton Horse Trials, now run by an old friend Lord John Somerset’s older brother, Bunter, the former Marquess of Worcester, now Duke of Beaufort, and the Burghley Horse Trials at the 16th century stately pile of William Cecil, Elizabeth I’s Lord High Treasurer.

When I moved to the Daily Mirror in 1976 working on the Inside World gossip column penned by Paul Callan, I found myself assigned frequently to royal events, namely Prince Charles, who played polo every weekend at the Guards Polo Club at Smith’s Lawn, just a short drive from Windsor Castle in his Aston Martin Volante convertible, which had been a 21st birthday present from his mother while he was a student at Trinity College, Cambridge.

A year later I was on the Daily Mail – Nigel Dempster’s Diary – covering the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations marking 25 years on the throne, seeing her and Philip almost daily as she toured her realm.

Her Majesty was admired, revered, and adored by her subjects, including working with 15 prime ministers, starting with Winston Churchill, as well as meeting 13 U.S. presidents during her flawless reign. I found her witty and funny and her drole one-liners were worthy of any major TV show. 

Sadly, even though we were allowed to talk to her, it was with the strict proviso that nothing would be reported.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II reigned for more than 70 years with MJ columnist Richard Mineards writing on the royal family for over 45 of them

King Charles III, as he has chosen be named, will make a good sovereign, but given his age of 73 it will inevitably be a relatively short reign, mirroring that of Queen Victoria’s son, King Edward VII, who sat on the British throne from 1901 to 1910.

His speech to the nation from Buckingham Palace, where his mother used to broadcast her annual Christmas message, was emotionally moving, paying homage to his late beloved “mama” and promising to follow in her footsteps when it came to loyalty and devotion in his new role.

William and Kate now become Prince and Princess of Wales, as well as Duke of Duchess of Cornwall, and it was good to see William inviting his younger brother Prince Harry and former actress wife Meghan Markle to join them at Windsor Castle when they inspected thousands of floral tributes and messages.

But Meghan was pointedly left out when Harry flew to Balmoral Castle in the hope of seeing his dying grandmother without her. Sadly, he was not in time.

The outpouring of grief has been extraordinary with the Scottish city of Edinburgh having to close its gates because so many people were pouring in to pay homage to the Queen after the casket was moved from the Palace of Holyrood, former home of Mary, Queen of Scots, to St. Giles Cathedral, just a tiara’s toss away, so her Scottish subjects could pay homage.

MJ columnist Richard Mineards was interviewed by a flurry of media outlets like NewsNation Chicago

The solid English oak coffin, draped in the royal standard, has now been taken to London where it will rest in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace before being moved to historic Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament, built by the son of William the Conqueror in the 11th century and used for the trial of King Charles I and traitor Guy Fawkes, who tried and failed to blow up King James I.

Many past monarchs have laid there in state and also memorably Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, who was given the honor of a state funeral after his sterling work in World War II.

It will sit on a raised catafalque for four days, open 23 hours a day, as more than one million people are expected to process past, paying homage to the beloved sovereign.

On Monday it will be moved by gun carriage to nearby Westminster Abbey where 1,000 guests, kings, and queens from all over Europe and the globe, as well as President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, will honor the Queen’s extraordinary legacy before she is taken to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, just a short distance from her beloved castle, for the interment where she will be laid to eternal rest in the King George VI Chapel with her late father, mother Elizabeth, and younger sister Margaret, as well as her beloved husband Prince Philip who has been in the Henry VI building’s crypt since his death in April 2021.

Needless to say, this has kept me extraordinarily busy with 17 TV appearances so far, including interviews with KEYT-TV anchor Beth Farnsworth at Maison Mineards Montecito, and Zoom and Skype interviews with NBC in San Francisco, KCBS in Los Angeles, News Nation in Chicago, Fox News Channel in New York, and Canadian TV in Toronto.

Add to this press interviews with the London Guardian, Der Spiegel, Germany’s biggest selling magazine, and Bild, one of its biggest newspapers.

Queen Elizabeth was a unique and extraordinary personage, and it was a great honor to have covered her for so many years.

Even the millions of people who never got to meet her felt they knew her from TV footage, thousands of photographs, not to mention her image on British currency and postage stamps for more than half a century.

Her death is like losing one’s favorite grandmother…


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