In nearly 70 years on the throne, the Queen has met countless people — from presidents to the world’s poorest. 

The encounter was a lasting memory for all of them. 

The authors DEBORAH Hart STROBER and GATER STROBER interviewed many people who knew or had met her over the past quarter century and assembled their memories into an engaging new book.

In nearly 70 years on the throne, the Queen has met countless people — from presidents to the world's poorest. For all those, the encounter left an abiding memory. (Above, the monarch at Royal Ascot in 2017)

In nearly 70 years on the throne, the Queen has met countless people — from presidents to the world’s poorest. It was an unforgettable experience for everyone. (Above: The monarch at Royal Ascot 2017

Michael Noakes

Portrait painter

The Queen is a constant speaker during her sittings. The silence is brief.

I was able to paint Her Majesty in robes made for the Order of the Bath. They were bright pinky and satin. These robes are very impressive. One afternoon, the lighting was terrible. I turned the lights on.

It was a big picture I was painting — 8 ft tall — for the city of Manchester, and to get to her head, which was 6 ft up on the canvas, I had to stand on a trolley. She also stood on a cart to get in the correct height. 

She could see out of the window from her outside because she had been raised to let in enough light. This was not supposed to happen but we were in a room overlooking The Mall and Birdcage Walk — on the side of the Palace she didn’t normally go to.

As she looked out the window, she continued a continuous commentary about the scene or people’s remarks about how they were glimpsing. It was funny to hear people say, “Wow!”

The Queen then gave a commentary on the incident in which a taxi was hit by a vehicle. The Queen said: “Oh! The Queen is saying, “Oh!

Michael Deaver

Vice chief of Staff to President Reagan

California was a memorable place for the Queen in 1983. Every day, she called Princess Margaret and told her all about what was going on and what Philip and Margaret had done. She also shared how much they had fun.

They decided to not’steam’ after torrential rainfalls. [travel in Britannia]She doesn’t like harsh weather. It was a huge problem for me because we ended up spending a whole evening that we didn’t have planned.

I approached the Queen, saying: “We have a free night tomorrow in San Francisco. I’ve called Trader Vic’s. They’re going give us a special place and it was just me. She replied, “Oh! A restaurant!” That’s wonderful!’

The Queen had a wonderful time when she visited California in 1983 (above with Philip, and Nancy and Ronald Reagan). She phoned Princess Margaret every day and excitedly told her what was happening, what she and Philip had done that day and how much fun they'd had

When she was in California with Philip and Nancy Reagan, the Queen enjoyed a great time. Each day she phoned Princess Margaret, telling her about the day’s events and how Philip was doing that day.

When the queen turned towards the Duke of Edinburgh, she said: “Philip Deaver has this amazing idea about going into a restaurant!” He replied: “A restaurant?” He said: “A restaurant?” What restaurant is that?

She said to me, “We’ll discuss it tonight. And I’ll tell ya.” She came back down and stated that she would be happy to take me to dinner.

It was a great time at Trader Vic’s. Susan Hussey can be viewed [her lady-in-waiting], and the Duchess of Grafton, the lady of the robes, with these drinks — they hit you like that; they’re powerful things!

Vic made it a business: anyone could come in to get the ‘royal meal’. The Queen responded to my request that I take them back to their suite. It was an unforgettable evening. This was our first visit to a restaurant for 17 years.

Nelson Mandela

An ex-president of South African

The Queen and I attended a concert at Royal Albert Hall. [in 1996]. A South African choir was singing. I was sitting with Her Majesty and Prince Charles, and I got up and danced — and Her Majesty got up and danced, too! It was a great experience.

She is a beautiful lady.

Sir Bernard Ingham

Margaret Thatcher used to be Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary.

The Royal Family, as it is known, has two issues. It’s called Prince Harry and the Duke Of York.

Sir Michael Oswald

Royal Stud manager

A lot of people working, say, in Buckingham Palace — certainly from the Queen’s early days in the job — tended to write to each other on rather smart writing paper, embossed with the coat of arms and ‘Buckingham Palace’ written underneath, or ‘Sandringham’, and I had some printed paper made up especially for writing to the Queen.

I got answers to my letters, memos and notes back on some very, very inexpensive paper torn off a pad — about the cheapest sort of paper you could get. The message arrived very quickly. 

Some Scottish blood is evident in the Queen. She hates extravagance, and if left alone would choose a simple life with no horses or dogs, and the country she knows and loves.

Baron Glentoran

Tory politician

Buckingham Palace invited me to lunch. Only 12 of us were there, so I was sitting next to Prince of Edinburgh.

Both of them have a wonderful sense humor. One guest was an internationally renowned sculptor. A funny young man asked him: “Ma’am. Do you ever watch television?” He was a well-known international sculptor. One of the guests said, “Ma’am, do you ever watch television now?” She did not answer.

The Queen, as portrayed in Spitting Image

Spitting Image depicts the Queen

He stated, “I’m just curious if Spitting Image is on your mind?” He replied, “I was just wondering if Spitting Image is on your mind?”. And then she responded: “What were you saying?”

He said, “I wonder if you have ever seen Spitting Image and saw where your puppet said, “Now Mr Major, what are you doing?”

He displayed great courage.

She said, “I thought it was hilarious!”

Michael Deaver

Reagan loved the Queen greatly. He enjoyed talking with her about horses. Both were familiar with thoroughbreds.

He was a great friend and she seemed to really enjoy him. Our bags, which had come on Air Force One, were brought to Windsor. You are given a valet for myself and a maid for your wife at Windsor.

She had removed all her makeup and lined them up exactly. 

A pair of slippers made of sheepskin that she was ashamed to wear, they were neatly placed in front of her bed. She said, “Oh my God!”

After being on the road five to six times, our bags were full of dirty clothes. They had packed everything for us to laundry, but I didn’t have any pyjamas.

So the next morning I came out of the bath with nothing on — just as the maid came in with our breakfast tray. She could have considered me a grandfather clock. 

She replied, “Good Morning, Sir,” and she continued to stand there, looking like a block of stone, while they talked about what my wife would be wearing that day.

The other thing that morning was the Queen’s ‘alarm clock’—pipers at Windsor at 7am outside her window. A footman in tails was also seen walking the corgis.

Larry Adler

U.S. harmonica player

It was amazing what the Queen Mother accomplished. Clarence House was my concert, and Clarence House’s Queen Mother came to see me and requested that she play the harmonica. She accepted it and I gave it to her. She said, “No one will believe me when I say that Larry Adler gave me his organ!” Because she gave me a wink, she clearly understood what she meant.

Lord (Denis) Healey

Ex-Labour Chancellor

Lord Mountbatten had always been pro-Labour. A story recounted how during the general election, a Conservative canvasser called Broadlands where he stayed. 

The chap answered the door and said that he was a canvasser for Conservative Party. Dickie replied, “Ah, well. I don’t vote. Of course. I am a peer of this realm.” If I could vote Labour, it would be. You can speak to my butler, he thinks he is a Conservative.

John Eisenhower

Diplomat, son of President Eisenhower

The White House hosted a dinner for Princess Margaret in 1965. As I was going through the receiving lines, Princess Margaret stated: “I’ll meet you later.

Later I made it over to her for a pleasant conversation. And I then asked: “How are you mother?”

Right in front of me she turned into an Iceberg and stated: “You mean Her Majesty, the Queen Mother.”

Sir Rex Hunt

Governor ex-Falklands

In 1982, I was just days away from the invasion of the Argentines on the islands when I went to visit the Queen.

After I was thrown out of the Falklands, the Queen invited my wife and me to Windsor Castle — and we had a full 45 minutes with her. She was just like any other mother: worried about the role that her son was going to play — this was on the Wednesday; the task force had sailed on the Monday, and Andrew was on the way.

I was asked by her: “Do you think that he will be warm enough?” — with the clothes that were issued by the Army; ‘Do you think we should send him some extra clothing?’

She was just like any other mother who is worried that her son would go off to war. It was normal, natural talk. It was easy for me to reassure her, “There isn’t anything special that you need to wear. The weather’s not as bad as what you were led to believe.” It was a relief for her.

Above, the Queen with former British Vogue editor, Anna Wintour

Above is the Queen with Anna Wintour (ex-editor of British Vogue),

Lord Healey

You know it’s difficult to see the Monarch.

Only once did I feel completely natural, it was when Princess Anne came into my meeting to discuss the Budget. She said that she would like to visit Sandringham. The Queen replied, “Darling,” exactly as my wife and daughter.

Bishop Michael Mann

Former Windsor Dean

She once said to me, “My father taught me that they will always remember what I say or do to anybody.”

Her ability to imitate is also a highlight of her personality. The Queen mimicking the Concorde landing is among the most hilarious things you’ll ever see. She often seems dowdy and stuffy, which is a shame.

Baron (David) Blunkett

Ex-Labour minister

Both had dogs. Mine was my see-eye puppy. However, her Majesty and mine shared something and used to discuss our dogs. During Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Britain [in 2003]My dog leaped at the Russian guest and Her Majesty patted his head, almost as though to tell him: “Good dog!” You are a great dog.

Joe Haines

Harold Wilson’s press secretary

Harold was able to appear on one or two occasions. got back from the Palace on a Tuesday night that I thought he had had a whisky or two too many with the Queen — she liked to drink, and she liked to gossip; they were both gossips, you know.

I remember Harold telling me, when there was a big issue at the time, that she was far more interested in discovering whether rumours about a prominent French politician were true — that he would ride back home in the early hours on a milk cart, having been womanising somewhere.

There were one or two occasions when Harold [Wilson] got back from the Palace on a Tuesday night that I thought he had had a whisky or two too many with the Queen — she liked to drink, and she liked to gossip; they were both gossips, you know

There were one or two occasions when Harold [Wilson] got back from the Palace on a Tuesday night that I thought he had had a whisky or two too many with the Queen — she liked to drink, and she liked to gossip; they were both gossips, you know

Foreign affairs was her interest in the broadest sense.

But Harold told me that unless he had read his papers, there was a real danger that she would catch him out — she does read all the papers.

Lord Healey

Strong social sentiments are a hallmark of the Queen. Because of her profession, she is one of few in her family who actually visits the poor and helps those who are struggling. She is more sensitive to poverty than other dukes and duchesses.

Sir Bernard Ingham

There is some evidence from my time at Number 10 that some of the people around Mrs Thatcher felt that the Queen’s hangers-on — as distinct from the Queen —were disparaging. However, the Queen is not my opinion.

Diana and Charles are seen in Althorp with their bust-ups

George Austin

York’s Ex-Archdeacon

What disturbs me considerably is that when he was preparing Diana for marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, didn’t think she was doing the right thing, that she was taking on something she wouldn’t be able to cope with — but he didn’t say so. It was an act of gross negligence in duty.

He might have told Diana, “Look, I don’t think you need to marry him.” Please let me know if you have any questions. Is it certain that you are doing the right thing. It’s not too late to request a withdrawal.

We would all do the same if a couple came to us to prepare for their marriage.

George Austin: 'What disturbs me considerably is that when he was preparing Diana for marriage, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, didn't think she was doing the right thing'

George Austin: “What bothers me greatly is that Robert Runcie (Archbishop of Canterbury) didn’t believe Diana was doing the right things when they were preparing her for marriage.”

Winston Churchill

Grandson to the wartime PM

One month before the wedding, I took some constituents to Althorp. Diana was born there and Johnny Spencer her father told them: “I would love to show the private apartments.”

We had lunch. After lunch, we had to go back to our table.

He opened the door and said, “It’s in a lot of trouble now.” It was clear that there had been an epic battle royale: water stained the green silk wallpaper, a Chippendale chair was damaged and a mirror was cracked.

My wife and I thought it was a kind of love tiff at the time. With the benefit of hindsight one can now see how it was. [the marital discord]Start right from the start. 

It was probably when Charles revealed to her his affair with Camilla. Her reaction seemed to send her into a frenzy, and things quickly fell apart.

Admiral Sir Henry Leach

Ex-First Sea Lord 1979-1982

You only needed to look at her sideways and she would make you grovel. What was it? I’m not sure.

Michael Whitlam

The British Red Cross’s former boss

Diana invited me for tea. The ambassador’s wife was also there, and she was sitting in the livingroom in a dressing gown with white stuff on her face.

Of course I looked horribly embarrassed and the girls thought it was very funny and spent two hours mocking me. Diana said, “Come join us for girly chat.”

No one is the same cup of tea — A Philip one-liner

Michael Deaver

Prince Charles was born to see [Reagan]After he was killed, he died in May 1981. They met in the Oval Office. There were Filipino stewards who served coffee and tea. Prince Charles wanted tea. To my surprise, they gave him a cup of tea with a bag. It was a cup with a teabag inside. He didn’t touch it.

We left and I told the staff: “I’m so sorry for the teabag; the staff isn’t used to making tea.”

He looked at me, and said “Oh, that’s what it was.”

Hugh Segal

An ex-chief of staff Canadian PM

Prince Philip flew on his own to Canada. He stopped for fuelling at the Canadian Forces base. Down he comes — not in a very good mood at all — and our commanding officer says: ‘Hello. Is it a good flight?

The Duke asks: “Have your ever flown before?” The commanding officer responds, “Yes.” The commanding officer says, “Yes.” And the Duke replies: “Well, it was quite similar.” The Duke then walks off.

Based on Queen Elizabeth II: Oral History Deborah Hart Strober Gerald Strober published by September Publishing at £25. ©Deborah Hart Strober & Gerald Strober 2021. For more information, please visit: copy for £22.50 (offer valid until 18/12/21; UK P&P free), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937.

Over the course of almost a quarter of a century, authors Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald Strober have interviewed dozens of those who know or have met her and compiled their recollections into a fascinating new book. Above, the monarch at Windsor in 2016

Deborah Hart Strober, Gerald Strober interviewed many people who knew or had met the monarch over the span of nearly a quarter century. They then compiled their memories into an engaging new book. Above: The 2016 monarch at Windsor