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  • Random Parishioner

Arise, Sir ......who?

It has been a sad week as we are mourning the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth. It has also been a momentous week with the proclamation of a new king, HM King Charles. Our feelings are tossed to and fro as we move from sadness for what is lost to hope in what the future might hold. As people all over the world have shared their stories and memories of Queen Elizabeth it has been a bitter-sweet time, but it is important to celebrate a life as well as to mourn a passing.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Queen Elizabeth, but she and Prince Philip did pass our house in their Range Rover and had a good giggle at our Westie, Hamish McTavish, standing to attention on the route beside a very large Union Jack! Shortly after that we had him knighted on social media and he became “Sir” Hamish McTavish! We have also had the opportunity to walk through the Queen’s private apartments at the Palace of Holyrood House in Edinburgh, and ride in her elevator! Hubby and I were invited to the palace for the Chancellor’s Dinner with the Princess Royal. Because I am particularly doddery we were invited to use the private elevator which I believe was originally installed for the Queen Mother. It did mean travelling through a private part of the palace, accompanied by a footman (presumably to ensure that we didn’t pocket the royal silver or take selfies in the private apartments!). It was enlightening to see the “nick-nacks” dotted around on the historic furniture and the plethora of personal family photographs. It was obvious that family, past and present, was terribly important to Queen Elizabeth, and equally evident from the doggie and horsey nick-nacks that her 4 legged companions were also very important to her. We were particularly glad to see that as the reason we had been invited to dine with the Princess Royal was because of the fundraising we had been able to offer to the University of Edinburgh Hospital for Small Animals (part of the Vet School) following the passing of our own cherished pet, our Sir Hamish McTavish. Sir Hamish was the figurehead and “spokesdog” for a charity we had run for the welfare and care of Westies worldwide, and as such he (personally) had a huge following, and when he passed those followers were generous in the donations in his memory which were raised on behalf of the University’s Hospital for Small Animals where he had been receiving treatment for a couple of years.

The dinner was a very formal affair – black tie – and to be honest I felt more than a little self- conscious done up in my unfamiliar garb, complete with black suede court shoes with sparkly heels that I was particularly proud of. There were pre-dinner drinks and canapes, where Princess Anne would be introduced to some and meet and greet before the sit down meal. We knew a few of the University people, particularly those from the Vet School and the Fundraising office, but not many. We had also been corresponding on social media with a few of the staff, one a senior member of the Principal’s staff who we spoke with regularly but had never met. As we were milling around with the others enjoying our drinks and canapes and waiting for the Princess to enter the room we suddenly became aware of a smiling, exuberant young woman descending on us at speed. In a very loud and plumby voice she cried “Sir Hamish McTavish!!!” as she rushed towards us, arms outstretched, and caught us up in an enthusiastic embrace. It was our social media friend and the Principal’s PR lady whom we knew through our charity work and her online following of our late little dog, Sir Hamish, whose name she had called out so enthusiastically. She was lovely, but her enthusiasm, not to mention loud, excitable voice, had everyone around staring, smiling and muttering. She had arranged for us to meet with the Princess and was coming around to make sure we were “in the right place” to get to chat with her. I soon became aware that some of the rumblings of our fellow guests was them sharing with one another that my hubby was Sir Hamish McTavish and was obviously well known! I could hear “Ah well, that’s Sir Hamish of course, do you know him?” It was a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes with no-one willing to admit that they didn’t know who he was! I didn’t have the heart to explain that Sir Hamish was our dog and not my husband!

Soon after we had our opportunity to chat to Princess Anne who was delightful. I was totally tongue-tied and star struck, but my unflappable Yorkshire hubby engaged her in conversation for some time, eliciting roars of laughter from the Princess when he told her how our dog had been knighted on social media and hoped that her mother The Queen would not be offended. Of course this easy camaraderie between Princess and Yorkshireman further fed the idea that this “Sir Hamish” was not only a nobleman, but fast friend of royalty! What could be further from the truth?! Throughout the evening as people passed us they would greet us by smiling, nodding at hubby and saying deferentially “Sir Hamish”. It was all we could do not to giggle uncontrollably but we didn’t want to be evicted and blacklisted, so hubby just nodded back and said in most sombre tones “Good Evening”.

I tell you all this in confidence as I don’t want the King to find out and have hubby sent to the tower for impersonating a nobleman – although in reality he was impersonating a Westie!



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