'Our Royal Connection', an article in 'Woman and Home', June 2012
The Queen meets thousands of people every year. Emma Pritchard hears from four women whose work (or passion) brought them into closer contact...
Lucy Worsley, 38, ic chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity in charge of maintaining Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace in Kew Gardens and Kensington Palace among others ...
When I first met the Queen my initial thought was how small she was. In pictures she always seems to fill the frame so you have no idea, but she does have great presence. She was opening an exhibition about Shakespeare at Hampton Court Palace in 2004 and, as one of the curators, I was introduced. My mind stopped working, then I realised she too is a human being, and being the Queen is in a sense just her job. I've been lucky enough to meet the Queen again since then, through my work with Historic Royal Palaces, and I still get nervous - who wouldn't? She is the Queen, after all!
I joined Historic Royal Palaces nine years ago, and for the past seven have been working on the £12 million refurbishment of Kensington Palace. We've created a new entrance and programme of exhibitions such as Diana: Glimpses of a Modern Princess and Jubilee: A View from the Crowd. In March, the Queen came to the Palace to officially open it. There was quite a crowd when she arrived, but they all went silent when they saw her. It was an exciting moment.
I was also recently invited to have lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. It was a private occasion and there were only ten of us there - representatives from the worlds of charity, business, sport and literature - so a real honour. All of my friends were asking me what I was going to wear. I opted for a Monsoon dress that I'd been saving for a special occasion - what could outdo lunch with the Queen?
We had drinks beforehand and talked about Kensington Palace and Facebook. I asked the Queen if she updated her own page and she laughed and said 'no' - and I showed her a scrapbook of newspaper cut-outs about her that I'd made when I was four. I'm sure she'd seen that sort of thing before, but she didn't let on and was very polite. Then we sat down for a traditional menu of lamb chops with gravy followed by rhubarb and white chocolate. It was a more elaborate lunch than I would usually have, with glasses from the Prince Regent, and I accidentally washed by grapes in a finger bowl, but I'm hoping nobody saw!
As a historian of the monarchy, meeting the Queen was fascinating. I felt like a scientist who's studied dinosaurs and then met a living specimen! It's also interesting to see history repeat itself with the Diamond Jubilee. When Queen Victoria approached her 60 years on the throne, there was a huge upsurge of admiration and affection for her. That's happening again now, and seeing this renewed interest in the royal family is lovely.
© 2013 Lucy Worsley