Memory Lane: The day I saw the Queen – A Special Tribute. Thinking Aloud Series

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Memory Lane: The day I saw the Queen – A Special Tribute. Thinking Aloud Series

I remember some time ago in November 1999 the Queen of England, Elizaberh II visited my beloved country Ghana.

The visit was from the 7th to 9th of November 1999 and lots of Ghanaians including me had waited in anticipation of the Queen’s visit to Ghana.

It was the Queen’s second visit to Ghana during the 70 years of her reign as the British monach. She was also the longest reigning monach in British history.

Queen Elizabeth II faces1
Faces of Queen Elizabeth II during 70 years of her reign

I had already planned to sneak out of work that day to catch a glimpse of the Queen. I said to myself, “this is a once in a lifetime event so I must see the queen at all cost; fiili-fiili”.

On the following day of her visit, November 8, 1999, the Queen was scheduled to visit the Wireless Cluster of Schools, located near Palm Wine Junction and East Cantonments as part of her tour that afternoon.

I knew about this because I was monitoring the live news coverage on radio at work that day. I knew this was a golden opportunity and a chance for me to see the Queen in person; fiili kadochi!

I told my boss I had to go fix my tire, and hurriedly hopped into my car and drove from Burma Camp where I used to work back then, to East Cantonments feeling very hopeful that I would by all means get to see the Queen since she was in that area close to me.

The main road from the 37 hospital to T-Junction was filled with school children waving miniature Ghana flags and British Union Jack. They were all waiting to catch a glimpse of the Queen of England; just like me.

There were policemen and soldiers all over the place; security was very heavy and tight, indeed and no one dared try anything foolish enough to change his/her sleeping place for the night… abi you know what I mean?

The place had suddenly become a bee hive of activity that hot November afternoon on the streets of Accra.

I managed to find a safe place, not very far from the cluster of schools to park my car. I quickly got out waving my miniature Union Jack.

I joined a group of school children also waiting in anticipation for the Queen to drive by so they could wave at her.

A police escort rider on his big motor bike came along at top speed, displaying his riding acrobatic skills and crisscrossing the narrow East Cantonment street with sirens blaring to signify the queen’s arrival.

The police rider kept shouting “move away – move away!” as he led the convoy of some 20 or so vehicles accompanying the British monach to the venue.

As the cars rolled past, a gleaming black Range Rover in the convoy slowed down on reaching our spot. The children beside me began shouting in hysterical ecstasy:

“Queen Elizabeth!, Queen Elizabeth!!”… “Welcome to Ghana Queen Elizabeth!”; “Akwaaba, long live the Queen!” waving their miniature flags at the Queen.

I also raised my Union Jack and waved it shouting “long live the Queen; akwaaba!”

The Queen who was sitting at the back seat of the car, behind the driver turned and looked in our direction. She looked directly at the children and I standing some 5 feet away from her car; and with a sweet smile she waved back at us!

QE2
Queen Elizabeth II looked at us and waved back with a sweet smile on her face

It was all over in about 5 minutes. It wasn’t long, but long enough for me to see the Queen in person and up close as she drove by.

I must honestly admit that it was a day I would never ever forget… I will always remember that day for the rest of my life.

The last official picture taken of the Queen on Tuesday September 6th. She died on Thursday September 8, 2022.

It’s been 23 years ago now when I last saw her in Ghana, and today, Monday September 19, 2022 is the day set aside for her state funeral and burial.

She will be missed greatly because her death at 96 after 70 years on the throne, has brought about the end of an era in the history of the British Monarchy.

Also read: Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96

May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace! Sleep well Queen Elizabeth II; the world will forever miss you! Damirifa dua!

Atare
The writer

Next feature article: “Poisoned Waters” coming soon!

Citizen Atare
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