OM Times Editor Trevor Taylor meets HM The Queen at a private reception at the Royal Commonwealth Society, London this week.
(By Trevor Taylor LLB (Hons)- Member of the Royal Commonwealth Society Club, London)
On Wednesday the 14th November 2012 I had the great privilege of meeting HM the Queen, who is also Head of the Commonwealth, at a private reception at the Royal Commonwealth Society in Northumberland Avenue, London.
The Queen arriving at the Royal Commonwealth Society Club on Wednesday (Seen here being welcomed to the Club by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir David Brewer)
It all started several months ago when it was suggested I put together some short written articles of the time I spent in my younger days in several Commonwealth countries. My father was posted to outposts in 3 Continents in his 30 years service with the Commonwealth Office, later to become the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was later awarded the OBE by the Queen.
I decided to write some short articles on East Africa, Malaya, and Belize (then the British Colony of British Honduras), in all of which I lived and went to school, interspersed with periods of boarding school in the United Kingdom. During this period in my life I also visited and stayed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Singapore, and Jamaica. I later lived and worked in Central and Southern Africa.
The Queen chatting to us at the Commonwealth Club on Wednesday. (Me on the right. Some of the Commonwealth children centre)
During my travels with my family in my early years I stayed at the hotel in Ceylon (Mount Lavinia Hotel) featured in David Lean’s classic film ‘The Bridge Over the River Kwai’ starring Alex Guinness. The film was actually shot in Kitulgala, Ceylon, (now of course Sri Lanka) and featured the stunning frangipani gardens of the hotel in some of the scenes with Jack Hawkins. In Singapore, I stayed with my family at the iconic Raffles Hotel, which is still featured as one of the world’s most atmospheric hotels.
One of my entries on display for the Queen at the Commonwealth Society Club Wednesday
My earlier adventures with my family took me from the UK to Jamaica by banana boat (Elders and Fyfffes line TS Camito) via Trinidad (‘Trini’) and Barbados. From Mombassa in East Africa to London by Union Castle Line, by P & O steamship to the Far East, and travelled almost the length of Malaya by steam trains at the time of the Emergency before Malaya’s Independence. So I had some adventurous and vivid personal memories to draw on for my articles.
My articles were judged by the following panel of eminent experts who rated them all ‘5 stars’ …
The Honourable Lady Jane Roberts LVO
( Royal Librarian at the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle)
Dr Michael Pritchard FRPS
(Director-General of the Royal Photographic Society)
Mr. Benedict Brogan
(Deputy Editor at The Telegraph)
Ms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
(author of Half of a Yellow Son and Purple Hibiscus,
and Commonwealth Writer’s Prize winner in 2005)
Mr Dean Finch
(Group Chief Executive of the National Express Group)
Mr Shehan Karunatilaka,
(author of Chinaman: the Legend of Pradeep Mathew which won the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize)
The Queen discussing one of my entries, me on the right with glasses..
A recent article I enjoyed writing for the Society’s capsule was my daughter attending residential law tutorials at Cambridge University with fellow law students at London University, from countries across the Commonwealth. She gained her honours degree in English law this year and has fond memories of meeting fellow students from around the world and enjoying the ‘Cambridge Law’ experience as part of the Commonwealth Group.
I have to re-iterate that the articles I wrote were written with simplicity, were very brief, and simply meant to be a set of short glimpses of the Commonwealth I knew, drawn from personal experiences and memories. I was caught quite by surprise when they were picked up on by the panel of Judges, took on a momentum of their own, and ended with my meeting with the Queen last Wednesday. To be part of the History of the Commonwealth, stored at Windsor Castle, in the top 60 entries selected and presented to the Queen on Wednesday, was beyond my wildest imagination when I first started penning some sketchy thoughts for the Society just a few short months ago.
Doesn’t it just show, that you never know in which direction or what heights your writings may take you…!!!