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U3A Writing: Meeting Royalty

Hazel Dracup recalls the day when she handed a jar of lemon curd to Princess Margaret.

The only member of the Royal Family I have actually seen in the flesh was the late Princess Margaret, not once, not twice, but three times.

The first occasion was way back in the year 1960 when I attended a Girl Guide Rally at Newbury racecourse. I think it was for the whole of the Berkshire Guide companies. The boarding school I attended had its own Guides Company (10th Newbury), hence the reason for me being there.

Princess Margaret was the President of the Girl Guides Association She was in uniform, standing on a podium taking the salute as the rows of Girl Guides marched past. I saw her in the distance, in this instance, as I marched past.

The second occasion was on the 23rd May, 1963, to be exact. The patron of the boarding school I attended was none other than Princess Margaret herself. This was her second visit to the school, but the first in my case.

Lots of preparations went on beforehand and when the actual day came, we were lined up on the lawn outside waiting for her to arrive by helicopter. The local dignitaries, reporters and photographers along with a television crew were also in attendance.

She was greeted by the Principal and the Chairman of the Governors on behalf of the school and whisked away whilst the pupils got on with their daily routine.

We knew that she was scheduled to visit our Cookery Class in the afternoon. We had been told by our teacher that we would be making lemon curd and that the best of the bunch would be presented to the Princess as she was leaving.

As she came into the Domestic Science room we were actually stirring the mixture over the heat. She asked what we were doing, and our teacher told her that the best of these was to be presented to her at the end of the visit. She smiled and said, "How nice."

Guess whose was chosen as the best? Yes mine! I was absolutely gob-smacked to say the least. Before the lesson was over two reporters came back into the class and asked for my name and where I lived.

At the end of the afternoon we were all lined up once again, waiting for her to come out of the building on her way to her helicopter. One of the male teachers was searching through the crowd of pupils saying my name. "Come with me Hazel" he said and placed me next to where the Head boy and Head girl were standing.

As the Princess paused on her way to the helicopter I had to present the lemon curd to her, whilst the Head Girl said it was on behalf of the Domestic Science class that she had visited earlier. I handed it to her and curtsied. She smiled and said, "Thank you."

How chuffed I was, and the next week I had my name and where I came from on the front page of the Newbury Weekly News and also a mention in the Reading Mercury. I had seen myself on television as part of the class and now appearing in print - my one claim to fame!

The third occasion was on the 8th July, 1970, when the Princess came to Huddersfield to visit ICI and to open the new Welfare Centre on Zetland Street. The deaf social club at the time had its own rooms within the centre, and I, (along with my husband-to-be, and others) was part of line up to greet her as she came our part of the building. She smiled at us all as she came into the room and then continued on her tour of the building and its facilities.

For me the second visit was by far the most memorable and one that I will always remember and represents my one and only claim to fame!

Though I have often wondered what happened to that jar of lemon curd, and who had actually eaten it (if anyone). Your guess is as good as mine.

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