Blog / September 30th, 2022
Remembering Her Majesty the Queen
Since the death of Her Majesty the Queen, Girlguiding members, young and old, have been incredibly moved by the wonderful stories and messages shared within the guiding community. It shows how important the Queen was to Girlguiding, and how much she meant to so many of us. We wanted to share and commemorate with you everything that has happened since our patron passed away with this remembrance blog.
Many members of the region have had opportunities to talk about their memories and feelings for the Queen to the media. This includes features on the radio, television, and newspapers – a phenomenal tribute to our late Patron. This included a BBC Look East feature on Girlguiding Norfolk’s Archive Resource Centre (The ARC), who demonstrated garments the Queen would have worn as a Guide and Sea Ranger, as well as a version of her favourite food – campfire donuts (toasted jam sandwiches).
In the lead up to the Queen’s funeral, girls from the King’s Lynn guiding community in Norfolk, wanted to show their respects to the Queen and met at Sandringham to lay flowers, messages and poems. Together they acknowledged the emotional connection many of our members felt towards her, not just as a monarch, but as an individual who was a member of our community, and our Patron.
The girls, aged between 10 and 18, along with their leaders, stood in awe of the huge outpouring of love and gratitude for the Queen, ‘the feeling is quite overwhelming’, noted one of the leaders.
Pat Pinnington, Girlguiding Anglia Trustee, and former Girlguiding Norfolk County Commissioner mentioned the perfume blowing in the wind from all of the flowers. Despite the cold wind and torrential downpours, Pat shared how the girls were excited to join mourners at Sandringham to pay their respects and to take part in a significant moment of history.
Megan, a Guide, said ‘it felt quite surreal to be at Sandringham and I feel honored to be here wearing my uniform’.
Other girls in attendance spoke of how proud they were to make the effort to come and pay their respects, ‘this time will be remembered in history and I want to be able to share that with my children’.
Lily, Rihanna and Tia, all Guides from Kings Lynn, are travelling to Switzerland on a guiding international trip shortly and will renew their Promises whilst away. They spoke about how it would ‘feel weird’ to change the Promise. The leaders, some of whom have been in guiding for many years, noted that it would take a lot of getting used to and that so many elements of life as we know it will now change. Being at Sandringham and taking time to reflect will allow them to process the immensity and impact of the Queen’s death.
Maxine Jones, a leader from Girlguiding Essex North East and former region Trustee, shares her experience in helping Team London support members of the general public on the day of the Queen’s funeral. Over 600 Girlguiding members volunteered at various locations and train stations as part of their tribute to Her Majesty.
‘Monday 19 September 2022 will be a date that will stay in my mind and heart forever. Having been a member of Girlguiding for over twenty years, I had made my Promise on many occasions to serve The Queen and my country. Today was my last opportunity to keep that promise to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
It started early, 6.30am to be precise. Time to pack my rucksack, with food, drink, hat, gloves and loo roll, (thanks to my guiding friends for reminding me!), in preparation for a long day. Full uniform, lots of layers, and unruly hair as tamed as much as possible, I made my way to Chelmsford train station. I expected the building to be packed but instead there was a surreal atmosphere of quiet, people seeming to anticipate the momentous occasion that was to happen on this day.
For someone who has been fortunate to travel the world, some of it alone, I felt oddly nervous. I travel to London regularly, so I told myself to stop being ridiculous!
Team London, the volunteer organisation that was managing the Girlguiding volunteers for the Queen’s funeral, had confirmed my shift. 12.45pm start at Gloucester Road. I pondered if I had time to visit Girlguiding HQ.
On arrival at Liverpool Street station, I noticed all the advertising screens were black with a simple tribute to HM The Queen, “EIIR, 1926 – 2022”. I took the Circle Line to Victoria; I was very early so decided to pop in to Girlguiding shop and HQ on Buckingham Palace Road. Yet another surreal experience, walking along the road, barriers everywhere, shops shut and few people. I was only halfway along the road when two leaders started smiling and waving, I didn’t know them, but their welcoming gestures and friendly faces meant the world. I was welcomed into the building and told to make myself at home. With a cup of tea, I watched the start of the TV coverage with other leaders who had travelled far and wide including Theresa from Scotland. We sorted out who was on the same shifts and arranged that we would all travel together.
At 11.30am we gathered our belongings and made our way on the tube to Kensington; this wasn’t an easy journey with the many road blocks.
On arrival at the welfare centre meeting point we were given our purple Team London, high viz jackets, we were all very excited to receive these and all took turns to take group photos and selfies!
We had a briefing from our team leader and were instructed to buddy up. My buddy was Zoe, a Guide leader from Sussex. We made our way in to positions to be able to watch the hearse and funeral cars as they went by. The crowd went silent as they drove passed, as I made my Girlguiding salute, I was struck by how dazzling the state crown was on top of the flag draped casket. I had seen the crown jewels in the Tower of London and thought it was the lighting that made them dazzle, but no, they do that in daylight too!
To see the cortege in person really hit home, we were witnessing a moment in history. As soon as the police escort moved on, we moved into our Wayfinder positions ready to direct the public to the nearest stations and offer any advice they needed. Everyone was very friendly and recognised our uniforms, a local mayor came and had a chat with us and asked for a photo with us. The crowds dispersed fairly quickly but we were please to still be able to direct people to various locations including the large screens in Hyde Park.
At 5pm, our team leader said we could take an extended break, so Zoe suggested we walk to Hyde Park and see some of the many flowers that had been laid in honour of The Queen. Viewing the floral tributes was an emotional moment, seeing how much our Queen meant to so many, not just in the UK but from across the world.
At the end of our break, we returned to our positions on Gloucester Road, the area was very quiet now. At 6.30pm we were told to stand down and return to our team meeting point. We reluctantly handed back our purple jackets, but not before one last photo.
Zoe and I made our way back on the tube like old friends, yet we had only met that day. We said our goodbyes and went our different ways. I eventually arrived home at 8pm, after walking 21,845 steps!
Zoe and I both agreed that it was an incredible opportunity to serve the Queen one last time and lovely to make new guiding friends from across the country.”
Further stories of the Queen’s funeral include, Girlguiding Norfolk Archivist, Helen Green, who shares her experience of the day:
‘Tickets were booked to go to London Sunday afternoon, the 18 September, en route to my 95 year-old Mum who lives in Twickenham, to watch the funeral together. I was wondering how the queue was and if it was still open; the news was not to go – I guess they wanted to ensure everyone got in. I was curious and arrived at Bermondsey at 6pm. It said 14 hours from here, and so I started walking. By 7pm I reached Tower Bridge where I picked up my wristband and was given a beautiful blanket by a sympathetic lady. It was another hour, and by then 11k steps walked so far that day, by the time I reached the actual stationary queue alongside the Cutty Sark at about 7.30pm.
What an amazing experience it was… so many friends made, encouragement from many, back aching but walls of the Thames to lean on, food and stories shared with ladies who turned out to be young leaders from Oxford – part of the family who said yes to adopting a granny for the evening. There was more; breathtaking scenery, a two-minute silence, experiencing the ‘kettle’ so close, observing them closing the hall for an hour whilst a practice was held. I had friends and family supporting online right up until I had to switch my phone off.
And the moment came at 4.30am. Would it be a head bow, or a courtesy, or a salute? Uniform top had been slipped on… and it was salute, on behalf of all guiding members past and present to say thank you so much for a life of service given so humbly and with many smiles, promised when 21 years, but also as a Guide Princess Elizabeth made her Guide Promise. Thank you Ma’am (as in jam).’
Rachel and Cayrs’ story:
“Carys and I decided we wanted to go in uniform to pay our respects to the Queen. Leaving Flitwick at 12.30 am, we got to the start of the queue about 2am and our wristbands at 3.30. And then the real queuing started! Luckily the weather was kind, people were friendly and the organisation was excellent. We were able to leave the queue for comfort breaks – the Globe theatre had their toilets available- but I was starting to flag when we were getting close to Lambeth Bridge. I was a bit anxious when I couldn’t see anyone walking across the bridge but the reason soon became apparent- traffic stopped and bridge closed due to the arrival of the King and then Prince William! Couldn’t believe it! They were both so lovely and seemed genuinely grateful to everyone as well as concerned that we were ok. It gave us a real lift, just when we needed it. After that, we crossed the Bridge and got to the last stage of the queue. At 4pm we got into Westminster Hall. Beautiful, moving, humbling, majestic and yet somehow homely in spite of all the ceremony. Carys and I stood and saluted and bowed our heads, before walking slowly away.
Our uniform caused some interest, lots of chat with the Scouts, a couple of police officers asked where we Guided and one lady recited her promise to me, before suddenly becoming upset as she realised it would need to change.
Whilst we were waiting, we were in touch with our Trefoil Guild via WhatsApp. It was great to have their encouragement! We went on their behalf, on behalf of the District, some other friends who hadn’t been able to go and my mum, who is no longer with us but thought very highly of The Queen, had been proud to receive the Maundy Money from HM and had also been a Guide leader and Commissioner in the past. I felt honoured to be able to represent so many others.
Carys and I were both really tired at the end of the day; we’d been on our feet for over 14 hours! But we were so glad we were able to go and our aching feet and backs paled into insignificance. We’d been part of history for sure as well as having had the opportunity to live out our Promise to serve The Queen for the last time.”
If you have any stories or photographs you would like to share with us of the Queen and the impact she had on your guiding life, please send them to email@example.com where we will add your story to this commemorative