HM Queen Elizabeth II meets with members of the ships company Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth 22 May 2021 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II meets members of HMS Queen Elizabeth's ships company in Portsmouth on 22 May 2021 (Picture: Crown Copyright).
The Queen

Queen Elizabeth II: Armed Forces community share their personal memories of Her Majesty

The memories shared include dancing with the longest reigning British Monarch and pride at simply being in her presence

HM Queen Elizabeth II meets with members of the ships company Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth 22 May 2021 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II meets members of HMS Queen Elizabeth's ships company in Portsmouth on 22 May 2021 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

After the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, serving personnel and veterans, plus members of the wider Armed Forces community, started to share their fond memories of the Monarch. 

People told personal stories of when they were fortunate enough to speak and even dance with Her Majesty in her beloved Balmoral Castle or the pride they felt while being made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. 

Because the Queen was so fond of animals there are, of course, many special memories that include dogs.

Below is a selection of the memories shared with us.

Former Grenadier Guard-turned-journalist Julian Perreira spoke with Jade Callaway, a BFBS the Forces Station broadcaster, about some of his personal encounters with Her Majesty during his time in uniform.

He said: "My first encounter was actually quite a surprise to myself, to be honest. I was standing at number four post on Windsor Castle, and just one early morning I heard some commotion over my left shoulder and I … glanced out of the corner of my eye and seen Her Majesty trying to get her corgis into the car.

"Prior to this moment, I'd only ever seen her on TV wearing full regalia, lots of jewels and you know a fancy dress. To see her in such a way which was just wearing normal clothing, you know, a headscarf, just like anyone's Nana could be dressed like, it was just actually quite a surreal moment and I was starstruck.

"Obviously, my military training kicked in quite quickly and I proceeded to present arms to pay respect to our monarch and so I presented arms. And the commotion, it was just absolutely surreal to see her then shouting at her corgis to get in the car. They weren't obviously clearly moving quick enough for her liking!

"The biggest surprise to me was then seeing her proceed to then jump into the driving seat and drive off down the long walk at speed. I just couldn't believe it. At this point, again, I'd never seen, I didn't know she even could drive a vehicle.

"I just assumed she would be chauffeured around everywhere she went," he added.

Watch: Former Grenadier Guardsman shares his memory of the Queen.

Barbara Hurman, 97, is a Second World War veteran who served in the Royal Signals in Italy for two years during the war.

Speaking with Ben Coley, a BFBS the Forces Station broadcaster, she mentioned that having Her Majesty metaphorically by her side throughout her entire life has been comforting but that she wished she had been offered the same military training.

She said: "Yes, strange in a way because I was, in a way, jealous of her because when she joined up they taught her to drive.

"Now, because I could type, they put me in the Signals, working on teleprinters. They taught her to drive, which I would have liked to have been taught." 

Barbara speaks with pride at having met Queen Elizabeth II a few years ago at a "Christmas pudding mix-up thing".

Of Her Majesty, she said: "She just fitted in, very easily. She didn't really stick out, if you know what I mean.

"She just joined in and she was interested in what's happening with everybody. It was like talking to the neighbour next door, really.

"She's always being a constant person in my life, really.

"I knew her in a way too well. I looked upon her as a long-distance friend."

Watch: "I looked upon Her Majesty as a long-distance friend".

Squadron Leader (Retired) Graham Brewer was at RAF Akrotiri in 2005 when he found out he was being awarded the MBE at Buckingham Palace.

He spoke to BFBS the Forces Station about his memories from the day. 

He said: "I remember marching up, turning, bowing and my heart felt like it was going to come out of my chest, but I was greeted by a lovely warm smile from the Queen and a handshake and, amazingly, I expected her to be wearing gloves, but she wasn't. 

"It was her hand and it was such a firm handshake as well which, again, I had not expected. 

"She then pinned the medal on my chest and then she chatted with me briefly. I can't remember what she chatted about, but I do remember that it was so warm and so friendly and so engaging."

He went on: "I felt like I was speaking to a friend. That moment will never leave me. It was the most special and amazing moment in my life and it's such a privilege to have met her and to have chatted with her and I am forever grateful to have received my MBE from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II." 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II pictured with members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire June 1989 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II pictured with members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Benson in June 1989 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Chief Petty Officer George Cross serves at Northumbrian University Royal Naval Unit. He recorded a message for Her Majesty as though he was speaking to her directly. 

He said: "Your Majesty, you never knew me. I was just one of tens of thousands of men and women who signed that big cheque payable to Queen and country in an amount 'up to including my life'. 

"I had the honour of cooking for you twice and my career highlight was attending your Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. 

"I was, and still am, proud of my service. Proud to have served such a shining example of devotion and service such as yourself and I would do it all again.

"Fair winds and following seas, Ma'am. Your duty is done," he continued.

"Lay down your head and rest. God save the Queen. Long live King Charles III." 

4th Regiment Royal Artillery fired a 96-gun salute in York following the death of Her Majesty, the Queen. 

British Army reservist, Rebecca Smith, was there for the occasion and shared a memory of Queen Elizabeth II with Chris Kaye, a BFBS the Forces Station broadcaster. 

She said: "We had the Ubique 300 ceremony down in Larkhill... and I was quite privileged to be able to be there and represent our regiment and see her there going along the line of Royal Artillery equipment. 

"It was a brilliant location to see everyone there in their best and see the Queen cutting around in her Range Rover and giving a small speech. 

"It was a real honour to be there," she added.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Royal Artillery who were celebrating the 300th anniversary of their founding in May 2016 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Royal Artillery in May 2016 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee in June allowed the UK to celebrate Her Majesty's tireless service and hear stories of her dignified approach to duty. 

At that time, one member of the NAAFI team serving in Germany gave Jade Callaway, a BFBS the Forces Station broadcaster, an insight into what life was like behind the closed doors of the palaces. 

Peter Garbett now serves as a Steward in the Officers' Mess in Sennelager, but his first job was serving in Her Majesty's household staff. 

He said: "The Yeoman of the Plate Pantry said 'Peter, we want you to go up to the Queen's private restroom'. 

"My stomach was going round and round and round and then, I'd been there about 10 minutes, busy... cleaning these photos and in walked a corgi and then followed by HM, the Boss. 

"I was about to get up and she said, 'oh no, no, no, you sit there'. 

"She said 'your name's Peter, isn't it? Where do you come from, what have you done, how did you get the job, how do you like it? Making people feel comfortable and that set me for the rest of my work at the Palace really." 

He remembers certain customs, saying: "I was a bag of nerves at Balmoral because you're invited to the Ghillies Ball and the Royals attend that as well as the off-duty staff plus all the Ghillies, so you can end up dancing with the Queen, which I did. She smiled and said, 'oh hello, all right, I'll lead'." 

"I feel honoured to have worked for the Queen. She, to me, is a superb lady and she's like the mother of the world, I think.

"She said when she came on the throne it was her duty and, my God, I think she's done us proud," he added.

Her Majesty The Queen presents new colours to Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards in the Gardens of Buckingham Palace in June 2013 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Colonel-in-Chief Grenadier Guards, presented new colours to Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards at a garden party at Buckingham Palace in June 2013 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Elizabeth Ann Harrod shared a magical memory of the Queen from about 30 years ago when she was in her early 20s.

Harrod was dressed very smartly at Newmarket Horse Races, and describes the look as being very similar to that of the outfits worn by the women in the 1980s American prime-time TV soap opera Dynasty. 

"I looked up and the Queen was a few feet in front of me coming my way. Her people surrounded her, but it was like a moment in time. 

"The Queen looked straight into my eyes, gave the warmest smile, a smile that spoke a thousand words. 

"A smile, that said to me, you look beautiful, I approve, two kind faces locked together in a moment of our own," she recalls.

A veteran who was a paratrooper in the 1970s shared his memory of when he exchanged a special moment with Her Majesty in Aldershot. 

He and his fellow PARAs were ordered not to make eye contact with Queen Elizabeth II under any circumstances, and were told 'if you do, you will be sent to the tower'. 

He said: "I could hear the sound getting louder and soon clocked the vehicle into my peripheral vision. 

"As the Rover drove past, my eyes automatically rolled towards her, and right into her gaze. She saw me and I saw her. 

"You see, I knew we made contact because I stood out in the line – I was the only black soldier on duty that day. 

"Being black in a sea of white faces, you are easily spotted, and that day I was spotted," he added.

Forty years ago, a member of the Royal Irish Rangers on public duties at Windsor Castle was walking from the guardroom to his Land Rover when Her Majesty appeared alone with her corgis. 

He said: "I stopped, saluted and facing her 'good afternoon, Ma'am'. 

"She looked at me, smiled, just feet away, and replied, 'Good afternoon young man'. 

"What a wonderful lady shall be greatly missed. 

"God bless the Queen," he said.

Winston Stone was part of Her Majesty's Guard of Honour during her visit to Boston on 11 July 1976. 

Of his experience with the Sovereign, he said: "She and Prince Philip walked past me as Corporal of 64th Foot, while at present arms. 

"They were going to Boston's City Hall for lunch with Mayor Kevin White. A memory never to be forgotten."

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guardsmen of 1st Battalion Coldstream guards and No 7 Company Coldstream guards in Windsor Castle May 2012 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II inspects the Guardsmen of 1st Battalion Coldstream guards and No 7 Company Coldstream guards at Windsor Castle, May 2012 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Richard Hill, a Royal Air Force veteran met Queen Elizabeth II while serving on the British Defence Staff in Washington DC during Her Majesty's visit in 1976 for the USA Bicentennial celebrations. 

He said: "On leaving the [British] Embassy I was positioned by the exit. As her car drew up, I came to attention and saluted. 

"Unfortunately, the car stopped, waiting to enter the traffic flow on Massachusetts Ave. It was then it started to rain heavily."

He went on: "My summer weight uniform was soon soaked, becoming semi-transparent. 

"Prince Philip noticed, nudged the Queen and they both began to smile. 

"Later my wife told me why, you could see my underpants through the very wet uniform, even the colour of them. 

"I must be the only serviceman to let their Highnesses see what he was wearing underneath his uniform!

"At this juncture, she took off her shoes and sat back to relax.

"A day I shall never forget." 

In 1982, the Queen attended the Royal Tournament which featured the RAF Police Dog Demonstration Team. An RAF veteran shared their memory of Her Majesty. 

They said: "At the end of a show... we did a guard of honour as she left. 

"I was there with my Labrador Max. The Queen stopped and spoke with me. 

"Can't remember a word of what we spoke about but as we did Max stuck his head into the bouquet of flowers the Queen was carrying and had a good sniff. 

"Well, he was a trained drugs search dog!"

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II met by an Honour Guard 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland 5 SCOTS Balmoral Estate in Scotland August 2021 CREDIT Crown Copyright
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was met by a guard of honour formed of soldiers from 5th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, as she made her formal arrival at the Balmoral Estate in Scotland, in August 2021 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Les Duncan shared a memory in a comment on a Forces News Facebook post.

He said: "A truly wonderful and respectful person who deserves all the accolades bestowed on her.

"Whilst on protective duties I had the honour of meeting her and the love she showed my boy (Dog Handler) was amazing to watch.

"My boy was not always receptive to strangers but Her Majesty had an obvious aura that he turned to putty in her hands, a definite plus in any human being.

"Rest In Peace Your Majesty, it was an honour being in your service."

John Clarke also shared a fond memory via Facebook.

He said: "November 1965 I was part of the ceremonial teams RN (Royal Navy).

"We were on parade in Whitehall and I happened to be in the front rank just a few feet away from our Queen.

"As she was standing up from laying her wreath she looked at us and winked. 

"So close so special," he added.