The Queen’s record-breaking reign has lasted for 67 years so far. Her Majesty has seen both triumph and tragedy for the UK and the Royal Family over the decades, however the Queen’s personal feelings about events are seldom made clear. However, the monarch has two regrets about her response to two major tragedies for the nation, according to a royal author.
Penny Junor, in her 2005 book “The Firm”, takes a look at two heartbreaking events that continue to be a source of regret for the monarch.
Ms Junor writes: “The Queen is said to regret her delay in visiting Aberfan in 1966, recognising in hindsight that it was a mistake not to be there immediately to comfort the grieving and express her sorrow.”
The Aberfan disaster of 1966 occurred when a colliery spoil tip collapsed, engulfing the local junior school and killing 116 children and 28 adults.
Ms Junor continues: “I suspect she regrets her instincts during that week after Diana’s death, too.
“Her first thoughts were for her grandchildren, and for once she put family before duty.
“It was a mistake, however, to let the nation believe that neither she nor any other member of the Royal Family cared about the tragedy that had pole-axed the nation.
“She misjudged it.
“Shut away in Balmoral she was insulated from the real world; she couldn’t feel the raw emotion that those in the streets could feel, particularly in London around the palaces where tributes, flowers and teddy bears were being piled high.
“She thought that the answer to the mass hysteria was to stay calm and to keep on doing what the family had always done, safe in tradition.”
Ms Junor draws a comparison with Queen Victoria, when the widowed monarch also retreated to Balmoral after the death of Prince Albert.
She writes: “Never has the monarchy been so unpopular in modern times as when Queen Victoria vanished from public sight after Prince Albert’s death in 1861.”
However, in 1997, the Queen ordered a break with protocol and the Union Flag was flown at half mast over the Palace on the day of Diana’s funeral.
Since Diana’s death, the Union Flag flies from the Palace when the Queen is not in residence, and has flown at half mast upon the deaths of members of the Royal Family, and other times of national mourning such as following the terrorist bombings in London in 2005, and the terrorist attacks in Christchurch in 2019.
Her Majesty also made her historic live broadcast to the nation, when she addressed the nation “as your Queen and as a grandmother“ and expressed her “overwhelming sadness” at the princess’ death.
Former royal aide Dickie Arbtier, in Channel 5 documentary “Paxman on the Queen’s Children”, spoke about his frustration with some other members of the Royal Family as they did not appear to be mourning with the nation after the Princess of Wales’ death.
Mr Arbiter told Jeremy Paxman about an extraordinary moment when he told Prince Edward exactly what to do, when he and Prince Andrew did not plan on going out in public and signing the book of condolence for Diana until later on in the day.
He said: “I was, you know, pretty brassed off.”
He told Prince Edward emphatically: “This afternoon is too late, I want you to go this morning, and this morning you will go.
“He looked at me and I said ‘yeah, I’m serious!’”
With raised eyebrows, Mr Paxman asked: “You were telling a member of the Royal Family what to do?”
Mr Arbiter replied: “I was. I was pretty fed up by then.”
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