A Devon man who spent a year on secondment from the Royal Air Force at Buckingham Palace as Assistant to the Master of the Household has described the Queen as a “quite remarkable woman”. Sqn Ldr Adam Fox-Edwards, a former Tornado Fighter Pilot, said it was an “honour and a privilege” to have served her.
Sqn Ldr Fox-Edwards now owns and runs Devon Hampers from Lifton in West Devon. But back when he was serving the late Queen he had the specific task of organising her Golden Jubilee celebrations, and recalls how she had a “radiant smile that would light up a room”.
He said: “She had a lovely sense of humour and was very approachable. She made you feel at ease knowing the first time you met her you were going to be feeling uncomfortable and anxious.
“I sat next to her at lunch at Windsor and she couldn’t have been more hospitable and put me at my ease. I also remember her encyclopedic memory.
“She met thousands of people every year, and yet you could refer to an event or people and she would remember the details. It was really quite extraordinary.”
He recalls there were a variety of challenges to the role. He explained: “It was very much a personal thing, and she very much got involved.”
One task set to Sqn Ldr Fox-Edwards very early on by Her Majesty was to find a new band for her Golden Wedding Celebration Ball at Windsor Castle. The former pilot said: “The Queen felt the band she had at previous events was a little old fashioned and tasked me with finding something a little more lively that the youngsters would enjoy dancing to as much as she would.
“That was a challenge – me trying to think how on earth would I choose a band suitable for Windsor Castle, without telling anyone who it was for, or what it was about.” A band comprising amateur musicians who were estate agents by day were employed by Sqn Ldr Fox-Edwards to play in the gallery of the Waterloo Chamber who turned out to be “jolly good”.
In total he helped organise five events for the Queen. One of which was a grand ball at Windsor Castle which had reopened after the fire.
He said: “The Queen was dancing. And I was lucky enough to be dancing on the dance floor near the Queen, and she danced with her handbag, even on the dance floor, even within her own house, and of course we now know what was in that handbag, in case of emergencies at the time.”
He was, of course, referring to the Queen’s memorable sketch with Paddington Bear to celebrate this year’s Platinum Jubilee. When Sqn Leader Fox-Edwards left Buckingham Palace the Queen gave him a signed photograph of her and the Duke of Edinburgh and some cufflinks during an audience in her private sitting room which he describes as being among his most treasured possessions.
For Sqn Ldr Fox-Edwards his personal experience with the Queen will endure forever. “The conversations I had with her while organising her events, and just the way she treated everybody the same and made everyone feel comfortable and at ease,” he said.
“It was just the remarkable personality that shone through and it was just an honour to serve her.”
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