Gin & tonic and doing dishes: UK envoy recalls Queen Elizabeth II’s humour

Gin & tonic and doing dishes: UK envoy recalls Queen Elizabeth II’s humour

Charles Hay shares memory of Balmoral Castle barbeque where late monarch showed her lighter side

KUALA LUMPUR – Throughout her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II had met thousands of people, if not more, and was known for having a knack for faces.

One of those who remembers her fondly is Charles Hay, the British High Commissioner to Malaysia.

Before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1993, Hay was a captain in the British Army and had served the queen in Balmoral Castle in Scotland as an officer of the guard.

Among his many encounters with her, he shared that he was once invited to a barbeque at one of the cottages on the Scottish estate with the queen, Prince Philip, Prince Edward, and a friend.

“The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip) fried the sausages and the queen poured us a gin and tonic from her thermal flask,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Vibes.

What struck me most in the strange and surreal experience was her wonderful sense of humour. At the end, she got up and did the washing up. I offered to help, and she said, ‘no, no, no, I’ll do it’ and she washed all the dishes.”
Hay’s last meeting with the queen was in July during an event in Edinburgh with the Royal Company of Archers, a ceremonial unit known as the Sovereign’s Bodyguard in Scotland.

“Every year the Royal Company of Archers, which I’m a member of, would meet with the queen for a garden party and various events in Edinburgh.

“In July, it was obvious that she was not in the best of health. But she attended the celebration of the 200th year of the Royal Company of Archers.

“She was in perfect mental acuity despite her mobility issues.”

The queen had to forgo the walkabout during the event, and the then-Prince Charles took over – something he had been doing in the past year.

As for the day before the queen’s death, Hay recalled that he was on an official trip to Pahang and in the evening, the news broke that the royal family was summoned to Balmoral.

“I was spending the evening with the regent of Pahang when I first heard of the family being called to Scotland. It is never good news when the royal family is suddenly summoned.

I slept extremely badly, and I woke up at three in the morning and saw the news (of her death). I didn’t get back to sleep from there on.
“I went to work, going through the protocols and getting the staff prepared for what needed to be done, such as bringing the flag down to half-mast, setting up the condolence book, etc.

Hay also shared that he met the queen when he was appointed high commissioner to Malaysia.

“One of my daughters was very excited that we have monkeys in the back garden (at the residence here), to which the queen said, ‘are you sure that’s a good thing?’.

“Again, she demonstrated her humour and a very human side.”

Thoughts on Netflix’s The Crown

The Crown, Netflix’s hit TV series, will be back on November 9 with the fifth season likely to focus on the queen’s reign during the 1990s and the height of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marital troubles.

While Hay admitted to watching parts of The Crown, he said he never really got into it.

“When Prince Edward came here (to Malaysia) a couple of years ago, we had a meeting with the staff. Someone said to him, ‘The Crown… is it really like that?’.

“He basically said, ‘we don’t comment about that’.”

Royal watchers are also eagerly awaiting Prince Harry’s tell-all book and more episodes of his wife Meghan Markle’s podcast Archetypes.

“It is an expression of the fact that people are extremely interested in the royal family and continue to be interested. But they are also a family and people like everyone else.

People have pointed out that the queen had her fair share of disappointments – three of her children divorced, all the problems that Prince Andrew has had. These are things that are very difficult to deal with and there they are in the full blaze of constant publicity,” said Hay.
“This underscores the importance of having a place like Balmoral where the family is away from media scrutiny.”

Balmoral Castle in Scotland was often described as where the queen was “most happy” and where she spent her summers, often inviting members of the royal family to stay with her.

She remained in Scotland since late July due to mobility issues and broke convention when she appointed Liz Truss as prime minister at the castle, just two days before her passing.

The eldest of her four children, Charles, who at 73 was the oldest heir apparent in British history, became king immediately after her death.

source – The Vibes

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