Many people share their memories of interactions with Queen Elizabeth a day after her death and say the wise and warm-hearted monarch will be greatly missed.
Loyal royalists Angela and Bill Thompson have spent most of their lives collecting memorabilia and dressing as the late prince and queen.
Their immaculate home in Te Aroha is full to the ceiling with regal decor and open for tours.
Angela Thompson said Saturday morning she learned the news after a radio station contacted them early Friday morning.
“Before Bill even answered the phone to pass it to me, he said, ‘I think she’s dead. It really was like a bad dream.”
Her own mother had died around the same age as the queen.
“She’s where I got my royal love from…but it was like losing my mum all over again. It was really, really hard to face the day.”
They received a lot of support and condolences from around the world, she said.
“It was phenomenal and very tearful.
“It felt like we suddenly became a family, not just people who adored and loved the Queen for who she was.”
They had held special celebrations to mark the Queen’s milestones at the Corogate Cafe and they compiled a huge photo album and video to send to the UK. The Queen responded with a letter thanking them, Angela said.
“We have corresponded before, never from the Queen directly, but we always knew from the wording that it was genuinely the Queen who saw or respected and took the items we sent for the family royal.”
The mayor of Hauraki had presented them with three items from the Queen – including a large poster of her 80th birthday, a book of her life and soaps from Buckingham.
“His hairdresser had come to our cafe and taken pictures of everything inside.
“We weren’t sure who he was supposed to start with, but he said I’d like to take the pictures and show him when I get home – and we initially thought it would show the woman, but he continued. saying he was the Queen’s hairdresser.”
‘A deep memory’ for former PM Jenny Shipley
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said Saturday morning the queen’s nature was evident when she visited Sandringham in the 1990s.
There was a lively conversation between the Queen, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother about memories of fishing in Taupo.
“It was like a family conversation and those photos were shared and the Queen Mother continued to entertain people about her fishing memories.
“There were lots of fish that were bigger fish and fishing stories, some of which Prince Philip said were exaggerated recollections rather than factual commentary.”
It was like any other family, where there was fun and banter, she said.
But what struck Dame Jenny was the Queen’s deep knowledge and interest in the treaty settlement process.
“You never felt like it was just a recent briefing [that the Queen got before speaking to people].
“She followed the nations of her Commonwealth and I believe she was able to win in non-Commonwealth countries as well, because she was so well respected and I think that had an influence, in especially in the last century.
“I mean it was not an easy subject. It was complicated and there were human and legal elements and I was very struck that she was aware of the shortcomings of the way the treaty had been honored. over the years and how committed she was to working with a country that was looking to turn things around is a very deep memory.
The “lady in blue”
A Scottish reverend remembered the Queen as a dry-witted and graceful lady.
The Very Reverend Dr Derek Browning was moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2017 and 2018 and is currently a minister at Morningside Parish Church in Edinburgh.
He met the Queen several times and stayed at Balmoral and told Saturday morning he had many funny memories of her.
The Queen once heard him preach using an anecdote of meeting him when he was two and being asked to focus on the ‘lady in blue’.
A day later, they were to meet again for the opening of the Queen’s ferry crossing. She got out of her car and came straight to him saying, “Well, moderator, will that be enough?”
“I was talking to her lady-in-waiting afterwards and she said do you know this was more special than you think? She had several options to wear several different things, but she said ‘no, I will wear blue, because that’s what the moderator would expect’.”
It was a moment he would never forget, he said.
“That’s the kind of gorgeous woman she was.”
The Queen also drove him to a royal barbecue, and he remembers how cultured and wise she was.
“He was someone who took tremendous pleasure in being around other people and his famous saying ‘I have to be seen to be believed’ was definitely something that meant a lot to her.”
Balmoral – a special place for the Queen
A Scottish political correspondent said Saturday morning it was fitting that the Queen died in Balmoral, Scotland – a place she had described as one of her favourites.
Queen Elizabeth II spent three months of the year at the royal residence, 80 km from Aberdeen.
Correspondent Andrew Learmonth said Saturday morning the queen had a greater sense of normalcy in the relatively remote residence.
“She died somewhere she was very comfortable.”
Scottish Women’s Institutes chair Anne Kerr said its members sometimes meet the monarch at her estate.
The members were sometimes driven by the Queen to tea rooms in her Range Rover, and she spoke to each of them, she said.
She would be greatly missed, she said.
“She was always very happy and made everyone feel so special.”
In Braemar, the nearest town to Balmoral, Marilyn Baker is part of the Castleton Dancers of Braemar, who practice Scottish country dancing to stay in shape and raise money for charity.
When the Queen turned 80, Baker created a new dance – or strathspey – for her, and the band then performed it for the Queen.
She had also received a letter from the Queen last week, thanking her for sending a copy of a book she wrote with children.
The book had referenced the Balmoral Estate Forest and the Queen and her corgis.
“To think that she had died so soon after was just very sad.
“It was a nice gesture, for someone so old and in poor health, she still took the time to get her lady-in-waiting to send me a letter.”
A “role model” for women
Dame Jenny said many remembered their own mothers and grandmothers as they mourned the Queen.
“My own mother adored the Queen, and this generation was almost alike in the way they dressed and enjoyed things.
“She was a huge role model for them. So I think there are many of us, those who are still alive and those who have passed away, there has been a lot of talk about who will be at the gates ready for after tea. midday, and that’s why people felt she was a part of their lives.”
University of Canterbury historian Katie Pickles has studied how the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and her great-grandmother Queen Victoria helped to elevate the status of women.
“They are truly the most notable monarchs of the past 200 years, of modern times.
“They really have been queens in every way.”
When a female monarch rose through the hereditary ranks, she had a different aura, Professor Pickles said.
“They must take on often masculine qualities and display military traits, etc.
“So the argument is sort of that they actually become more powerful through their difference and if you actually look at Elizabeth’s reign she was of course during the war a mechanic and worked that way. She grew up taking on a number of roles, it wasn’t just for women.
“She has also always promoted the health, education and well-being of women.
“The idea of a role model is always a little tricky and slippery isn’t it, but you can definitely say she was a woman in power, if you believe the monarchy has power, and so in that sense, she has become a leader.”
In her research, she discovered that some women took her coat.
“They think they’re her; they’re inspired by her and they actually follow her in a lot of the work they do.”