During that beautiful sunny summer in the early days of the War, the Welsh Guards had the pleasant duty of providing the guards for the Royal Family, whilst they enjoyed their summer break at their Sandringham Home, in the county of Norfolk.
This provided a pleasant change from the continuous training designed to bring the British army to fighting fitness. After the Dunkirk fiasco. the more relaxed atmosphere of this posting gave a feeling of almost being part of the Royal holiday.
Patrolling the Sandringham Estate, whilst trying to keep as low a profile as possible in order not to disrupt the family holiday, became quite difficult. Patrols continuously bumped into a member of the Royal Family. The Queen (now Queen Mother) would often call out and stop for a chat, always asking after our welfare, and that of our families. She must have had a good memory, always continuing a conversation exactly where she left it the last time she spoke. I suspect that she manipulated some of the “accidental” meetings, and enjoyed meeting people outside her range of friends. On one occasion she asked if our mail was coming through regularly, we had been without letters for about ten days, due to our moving billets, she expressed sympathy, and was sure that it would arrive shortly. It did 48 hrs later, Yes I have often wondered about that coincidence?
One day looking out on the gravel driveway, watching my Company Commander, and his second in command indulging in their latest hobby, training a rather unwilling Cob to work in harness, pulling a high wheeled trap. This animal refused to “Walk on”, despite all the encouragement of “Gee Up”, and gentle flicks of the whip. then the Royal Family arrived, the King, The Queen, and the two Princesses. The two Officers suitably embarrassed, had a long conversation, then His Majesty took command. Waving the two Officers up into the trap, he carefully removed his immaculate Blazer jacket, carefully folding it before handing it to The Queen, who draped it over her arm whilst brushing off some blemish real or imagined. The King then strode up to the wheel of the trap, gently shot his cuffs, placed his hands on the spokes of the wheel in a sort of quarter to three position, pressing down with one hand and pulling up with the other, he propelled the trap forward. As soon as the horse felt the harness pressing against his rear, he trotted off, towing the trap as though he had not caused a problem.
Two very embarrassed Officers drove off, leaving the Royal Family smiling happily as they waved off their unexpected quests, with the Queen holding up the Blazer in order to see her husband once more properly dressed.
I have often wondered if the then Princess Elizabeth remembered the incident, when in later years that young Army Officer became one of her most trusted Equerries on her household staff.
Now one hundred and one years old, the adored Queen Mother, stirs many memories in the minds of her faithful public. Yes I am a Royalist in every sense of the word.