Former Royal Protection Officer, Richard Griffin, has recalled the moment he did not invite Queen Elizabeth II to his own farewell party which she was hosting. Mr Griffin recounted the nostalgic memory as the Royal Family prepared to move the Queen’s coffin from Balmoral on Sunday, following her tragic death on Thursday. He said: “Well, I was very fortunate because Christopher Geidt, who was then the Queen’s Private Secretary, asked me what I was going to do for my retirement party – and I hadn’t really thought of it.
“And he said, well, there’s no need, Her Majesty wants you to have your retirement party in the State Department of Buckingham Palace, you can invite 200 people, and she’ll pay.
“And of course, I said ‘I don’t know 200 people!’ But I soon did.
“But what was really lovely is when I actually arrived with my family for the party, one of my fellow colleagues who was taken into the office, she said to me: ‘there’s little old lady coming to your party tonight.’
“So I asked ‘what little old lady?’
“And she said ‘the Queen!’
“I said ‘don’t be silly, she doesn’t go to anything like this because once she does it for one person, she’s got to do it for everyone.’
“She said: ‘well, she’s coming to yours because I was with her this afternoon. And she said it’s Dick’s farewell party tonight. I’d love to have gone but he hasn’t invited me!’
“So Collins said to her, ‘of course you can go it’s your party you’re the hostess!’
“And she said ‘what do you think it’s okay if I go on announced?’
“And of course, it was a great thrill because both her Prince Philip and the Earl of Wessex all turned up to my retirement party and met all my family.
“That was probably the highlight of my career. The fact that she did that for me.”
Mr Griffin’s touching story is one of many being recalled as the nation grieves and celebrates the life of its longest-reigning monarch.
A symbol of stability in an era of sweeping social and political change, Elizabeth II died on Thursday, surrounded by her family in their Scotland home, at age 96.
Her son, King Charles III, officially became the monarch at a ceremony at St James’s Palace on Saturday.
He also approved the day of the Queen’s funeral September 19 being a bank holiday.
Speaking before the Accession Council, the King said his mother’s death had been an “irreparable loss”.
On Sunday, thousands of people are gathering by the roadside to pay respect to the late monarch as her oak coffin embarks on the slow, six-hour journey by hearse to Edinburgh.
Six gamekeepers from the Balmoral Estate moved Her late Majesty’s coffin as Queen Elizabeth II left the castle for the final time at 10am this morning.
The coffin will pass Ballater at 10.15am, Aberdeen at 11am and Dundee at 2pm, before arriving at Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh at 4pm.
Upon arrival at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the coffin will rest in the Throne Room until the afternoon of Monday, September 12, when it will be conveyed to St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.
A Procession will be formed there, with the King and members of the Royal Family there to attend a service at the Cathedral and receive the coffin.
Then, finally, the coffin will be on public view in St Giles’ Cathedral for mourners to visit and pay their respect to the Queen, from 5pm on Monday.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 13, the Queen’s coffin will travel from Scotland in an RAF aircraft from Edinburgh Airport, arriving at Northolt airport later that evening.
From there it will be conveyed to Buckingham Palace by road, to rest in the Bow Room, and on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 14, it will be borne in Procession on a Gun Carriage of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, where The Queen will lie-in-state in Westminster Hall until the morning of the state funeral on Monday, September 19.