November 14, 1963, was a special day for the people of Gloucester. The Queen Mother paid her first visit to the city and a young reporter called Hugh Worsnip was one of the team recording the event for the pages of the Gloucester Citizen. Hugh, who is still on the staff of the paper today, recalled the occasion recently in an article reproduced here
Only a few months into the job – and a Royal visit to cover.
The Queen Mother was due to open the new Shire Hall Council chamber at 3pm – and The Citizen reporting team had to get it in the main City edition, deadline 3.20.
The good and the great of Gloucestershire were lined up to meet the Royal visitor, but, for some reason, I shall always remember Thursday, November 14, 1963, as the day the Queen Mother was introduced to a steak and kidney pie.
It happened at her first engagement of the day when the royal car arrived from Badminton House at the county council’s latest old people’s home, Horsbere House at Brockworth.
It seems incredible today, but for the Queen Mother’s only formal Royal visit to Gloucester, the regal Rolls was preceded by one police motorcyclist, followed by two police cars. The crowds were marshalled by just three constables. The security arrangements didn’t rate a mention.
It was my job to describe precisely what the Queen Mother was wearing. I could see she had a feather hat with a small veil, gunmetal shoes and handbag and a peacock blue coat over a matching dress – but what was the material? Silk? Satin? One of the new manmade fibres? I approached the Lady-in-Waiting, Lady Victoria Wemyss, who put me out of my misery. The material was shantung.
Meanwhile the Queen Mother was meeting the residents of the new home and admiring the facilities and setting. It was all a bit formal. We needed an icebreaker.
It came in the sparkling kitchen where the cooks were just removing two huge and splendid steak and kidney pies from the oven.
The pies were placed on the table, topped with a sprig of parsley, ready for the Royal approval. The Queen Mother seemed unsure about what to do. Should she taste the pie or issue the cooks with a Royal Warrant? Had she ever seen a steak and kidney pie? She must have done – she had lived through the Blitz.
She murmured her approval of the golden crust. She looked at the Duke of Beaufort. We looked at the pie and everyone burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter. It was the moment that marked the day as one of informality and joy.
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