Place: Birmingham, UK
Time: Early morning on a pleasant sunny day
Holidays are often full of surprises and unplanned visits. During one of our long summer vacations in Birmingham, it just happened that The Queen, who was travelling across the length and breadth of the country as part of her Diamond Jubilee Tour, reached West Midlands, and Birmingham was among the last few stops before the culmination of this national tour.
As part of the celebrations, once the tour of the country finished, she, as well as other members of the Royal family, visited numerous places all around the world. As is often the case, the entire year was filled with news of Royal visits from across the globe.
While in the West Midlands, HM The Queen along with HRH The Duke of Edinburg visited Birmingham’s Victoria Square at 10:10 (on the dot) on 12th of July 2012.
The presence of the Queen is felt throughout the nation all year round, every year, but there are only a few chances to actually see her up close. A number of locals spend their entire lives not having seen her, while others like me get lucky, with this opportunity of a lifetime.
My parents had previously seen the Queen once before as she drove by through a small village up North, but that had been a blink and you’ll miss appearance. Her visit in Birmingham was different as she was scheduled to interact with the public and spend some time in the city.
Aware of the popularity surrounding the Queen, it was only obvious that I, along with my daughter, mother, and wife, made my way to the event location a good 2 hours before her arrival, just to get a front row space.
A quick breakfast was all we could manage while standing behind the barricade as we “protected” our hotly desired territory. The weather, after a few days of gloom, seemed to have opened up in anticipation of the Queen’s arrival and the sun was shining bright with pure white clouds drifting among the clear blue sky.
Special jubilee flags swayed in the gentle cool wind with the hushed chatter between the audiences rising every few minutes as the excitement levels increased with each passing minute.
The security was extremely efficient with members of the local Birmingham Police working alongside spotters high up on the buildings, and police dogs checking every pothole. Even with a huge gathering and massive police presence, there was certain calmness to all the activities and preparations.
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham and the Mayoress came along to chat with the waiting public and we were one of the few they stopped by for a quick conversation. In fact, the Mayoress was rather impressed with my four-year-old-daughter’s pink sunglasses.
The Queen arrived to deafening sounds of cheering. She met with all the officials and was presented with a bouquet and a locally produced “plaque” by the city. She then walked around meeting the assembled crowd and passed by our standing space. As you can see from the photographs, we were only a few inches away from her and had it not been for her security and my love of life, I could have even touched her.
I did see her lock eyes with my daughter for a split second, almost as if she was about to say something to her, but at the very last second her attention was diverted and she moved on. Oh well…
Always smiling, there was a glowing calm on her face as she went about performing her duties and talking to a select few individuals. Her entire stay at Victoria Square lasted about 15-20 minutes, but it was a memorable moment for the people who were present, as it sure was for us.
Needless to say, I love these little surprises that get thrown in our paths when we travel and this one, thank God for photographic proof, will stay with us for quite some time.