The Queen Mother and I – an anecdote

The Queen Mother and I


I completed my Biology degree in 1971. Somehow I managed to achieve an honours degree despite not being the most diligent of students. The college insisted on putting lectures in the morning and I was usually up all night at various gigs or talking madly about the state of the universe. College was secondary to everything else; it interrupted my life even though I did find biology fascinating.

I did get in to some lectures and I must have found some time to absorb a bit of biology on the way. I did achieve a level of success. I was awarded a degree with honours.

As my degree was bestowed by London University they had a big award ceremony. This was to take place in the Royal Albert Hall with the Queen Mother giving out the certificates.

Being something of a rebel with waist length hair and attitude, a dislike of the establishment, royalty and distaste for all forms of elitism, I was not that enamoured.

Indeed the whole ceremony smacked of everything I stood against – elitism, monarchy, the establishment. The Albert Hall was OK though. I’d seen Country Joe and the Fish, Roy Harper and Hendrix there.

My Mum and Dad urged me to go but I declined. It wasn’t my thing. It was only years later that I fully appreciated how selfish I’d been.

I was the first person in my family to achieve a degree. To my Mum and Dad it was a really big thing. My achievements made them proud. They had sacrificed a lot for me to be educated and I had treated it all so lightly. For them to have had a photo of me receiving my degree, in cap and gown, from the Queen Mother would have been something huge. They would have put that photo on the mantelpiece in pride of place. It would have meant everything.

So much for principles.

I still feel immensely guilty to this day.

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