In the 1980s, I was involved in various organisations connected with the Commonwealth and after a meeting on one June day, we were invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.
I noticed in the paper that it was the Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday; so when my turn came in the queue to be welcomed by the Queen, I said to her that I thought it was good of her to welcome us when it was her husband’s birthday. She smiled and said, looking to her left, “Perhaps you had better refer to the party of the second part”. There was Prince Philip smiling too and we had a brief conversation, mainly about scholarships for Africa. I then moved on into the room and joined a group of colleagues for drinks and snacks.
The Duke was circulating from one group to another and finally came to ours. I said to them: “You should all say happy birthday –it’s His Highness’s birthday today”.
Then, before they had got their mouths open, he smiled broadly, put his arms loosely round me, and said: “YOU are my birthday present”.
Lalage Bown, West Midlands
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