The late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away at her Balmoral estate at the age of 96 on Thursday, was once asked by two U.S. tourists if she would take a photo of them with her former protection officer after learning he had “met the Queen.”
The heartwarming tale was recounted by Dick Griffin during an interview with Sky News on Thursday, as tributes poured in following the announcement of the Queen’s passing, ending the reign of Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
Griffin, who had served as the Queen’s protection officer for many years, had once accompanied Her Majesty for a picnic in the surrounding areas of her Balmoral estate in Scotland, when he recalled how the pair ran into two American tourists hiking in the Scottish highlands.
“Normally on these picnic sites, you meet nobody, but there were two hikers coming towards us, and the Queen would always stop and say ‘Hello’,” Griffin said. “And it was two Americans on a walking holiday.
“It was clear from the moment we first stopped they hadn’t recognized the Queen, which is fine, and the American gentleman was telling the Queen where he came from, where they were going to next, and where they had been to in Britain,” he told viewers.
“And I could see it coming, and sure enough, he said to Her Majesty: ‘And where do you live?’
“And she said: ‘Well, I live in London, but I’ve got a holiday home just the other side of the hills.
“And he said: ‘How often have you been coming up here?’
“‘Oh,’ she said. ‘I’ve been coming up here ever since I was a little girl, so over 80 years.’
“And you could see the cogs working, and he said: “Well if you’ve been coming up here for 80 years, you must have met the Queen!’
“And as quick as a flash, she says: ‘Well I haven’t, but Dick here meets her regularly!’
“So the guy said to me: ‘Oh you’ve met the Queen! What’s she like?’
“And because I was with her a long time, and I knew I could pull her leg, I said: ‘Oh she can be very cantankerous at times, but she’s got a lovely sense of humor.’
“The next thing I knew, this guy comes round, puts his arm around my shoulder, and before I could see what was happening, he gets his camera, gives it to the Queen and says: ‘Can you take a picture of the two of us?'”
Griffin continued to explain that he did take a photograph of, unbeknownst to them, the hikers and Her Majesty, and the pair “never let on” regarding her true identity.
“We waved goodbye, and then Her Majesty said to me: ‘I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to friends in America, and hopefully someone tells him who I am!'”