Because I have met her — because, at close quarters, I have observed her as she carried out a range of her official duties — people often ask me, leaning forward, narrowing their eyes: ‘What was the Queen really like?’
My answer disappoints them. ‘Very nice,’ I say. ‘Rather normal, actually; quite straightforward; much as you’d expect.’
I wonder if we appreciate how fortunate we have been. Elizabeth II was neither eccentric nor quixotic, and her husband was as honest and straightforward as the day is long.
If there is one word that sums up Elizabeth II, it is ‘dutiful’. Her life was driven by duty. She was a dutiful daughter and a dutiful Queen.
As Princess Elizabeth, aged 21, she said: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.’ She meant it. At her Coronation, she made a commitment to God as well as to her people, and her faith sustained her in all she did.
Because I have met her — because, at close…