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‘She was a second mum to me': Regional editors recall meetings with Queen

Regional press journalists have recalled their meetings with Queen Elizabeth II – including one editor who described her as “a second mum”.

Former Eastern Daily Press editor Nigel Pickover, who met The Queen on three occasions, has been among those to remember their own encounters with Her Majesty following her death on Thursday aged 96.

Nigel has written a first-person piece on the subject for the Ipswich Star, another of the titles he edited.

During his career, he met The Queen in Suffolk, Norfolk, and London, which he described as “spine-tingling moments to treasure forever”.

Portsmmouth daily The News was among the regional titles to splash on The Queen's death yesterday

Portsmmouth daily The News was among the regional titles to splash on The Queen’s death yesterday

Wrote Nigel: “I suppose that’s because The Queen has always been like a second mum to me, someone you imagined you could turn to for love, comfort and advice.

“She was wonderful when she visited the Press Association’s headquarters in London where I corralled a group of editors due to meet her in one corner of the Vauxhall building.

“As the Internet Age was getting into full swing, I asked her: ‘Have you surfed the web, Ma’am?’

“Quick as a flash, her bright eyes shone, as she replied: ‘No, but I believe Prince Charles has.'”

Nigel later met her in Ipswich on her Golden Jubilee Tour in 2002, as well as the hospital in King’s Lynn that bears her name.

He added: “She revealed a passion for my then title, the Eastern Daily Press, which was always on her breakfast table. How proud was I, as were EDP editors before and since.

“Always kind, always warm, always interested, she lifted my day on each occasion, as she did for all those lucky ones who met her. When we produced a diamond jubilee souvenir special, she wrote a beautifully-crafted note of thanks. I treasure it still.

“That – and her recent hilarious video sketch with Paddington – underscores the “common touch” she had amongst all her other personal gifts. Alongside countless millions, we mourn deeply.”

Chester Chronicle editor Michael Green attended a special reception for the regional media held at Buckingham Palace in 2011 as part of a “genuine charm offensive by the Royal Family hoping to generate interest in the forthcoming Jubilee celebrations”.

He told his paper: “It was, of course, all over in an instant but it was a moment I will never forget.

“I remember bowing to both the Queen and Prince Philip and shaking their hands before moving on, although the best was actually yet to come.

“When the formal part of the occasion was over, all members of the Royal Family present just ended up mingling with the visiting media which gave me the chance at one point to just walk up to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, tell them who I was and say what a pleasure it was to meet them.”

Michael added: “A potentially embarrassing moment for me came when I was standing in the middle of the aforementioned corridor watching Kate effortlessly charm a bunch of old journos when I received a tap on the shoulder.

“A member of the palace staff asked politely if I would mind stepping to one side and seconds later the Queen herself walked directly past me now that I was no longer blocking her path.”

Paul Jacobs, former picture editor of Portsmouth daily The News, photographed The Queen on numerous occasions.

He told The News: “It was always exciting to see and photograph Her Majesty when she visited the area – being the local paper we were often given the best photography opportunities on the Royal Rota, so got to see her up close and her interactions with the public and armed forces.

“The first time I photographed her was at Gunwharf Quays in 2002 as part of her Golden Jubilee tour of the country. My photograph was on the front and back page of The News with her holding some flowers given by a member of the public.

“That photo remains my favourite photograph I’ve taken of her, she always had such a lovely smile when talking to people. It was truly a sad day for the country on Thursday. The Queen will be sorely missed.”