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I hope you are all safe and well and coping with this 6th lockdown – keep your spirits up, I know everyone is doing it hard! We all need to get the jab so we can play cricket, otherwise they won’t let us play without the vaccination.
I’d like to share with you the story of how I met one of the most loved and respected figures in the world, Her Majesty The Queen. I have certainly been blessed when it comes to some of the people I have met.
My great friend, former Prime Minister and cricket tragic Bob Hawke was on a state visit to England in 1987. During one of his meetings with Her Majesty, he mentioned that he was a patron of Crusaders Cricket Australia, which was set to tour England in 1989. From this meeting and with the help of the great John Taylor, the wheels were set in motion for our inaugural match against the Royal Household.
John Taylor worked at Windsor Castle from a very early age. He went there for six weeks on work experience and ended up staying 40 odd years, working directly for Her Majesty. The Queen attended our match at the Royal Household in 1989 with Prince Phillip. In preparation we were required to meet many security protocols, everyone from Metro Police to the Queen’s Guard was involved and of course Castle Police and security. I came to meet my great friends Stan Highmore and Ken Foster through these security meetings. My first meeting with Stan and Ken was quite funny, they arrived at the hotel expecting to meet with a gentleman, I can assure you that was not the case!
They looked regal in their uniforms and I of course, looked like me in shorts, tee shirt and a pair of runners. They thought “what the hell have we got here”. I told them to take off their jackets and pull up a chair and enjoy a beer. Three hours later the deal was done and we had a game! The day of the match, we had a wonderful lunch, some of you would be familiar with the Household hospitality – the match went right to the last ball where the Royal Household won on the last ball with a leg bye!
At 3.00pm The Queen and Prince Phillip arrived. The game stopped, as the Royal Highnesses wished to meet both teams. From time onwards The Queen has always made time to attend the Crusader Tour Match against the Royal Household. This incredible relationship continues to this very day.
Later that week the Queen met with then Australian High Commissioner, Doug McClelland. She told Doug she had met a crazy Australian during a cricket match at the Royal Household with Bob Hawke. I was fortunate to have formed this relationship. I am led to believe Her Majesty even deferred a meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union to attend one of our games! It is history now that she makes it to every game we play at the Household. In Swanlami terms, The Queen is just like the lady next door. She would be one of the most iconic persons the world has ever seen with an incredible knowledge and a demeanour that makes everyone around her feel very comfortable. She has a magnificent love for nature and animals.
The three most important and incredible women I ever met was, my grandmother, Ethel Wattling, Lady Jessie Bradman and Her Majesty The Queen.
People often wonder what we talk about on those game days. I won’t share much but will share this story.
I once told Her Majesty I had watched a documentary about the Royal Family, in particular her grandfather, King George V, giving his Christmas message. There was some old footage that featured the Queen. I told her majesty she was just a tiny tot in the documentary. John Taylor pulled me up and said, you can’t say that. Her Majesty, said, Swan is correct I was a tiny tot back then!
There are many great stories and she is a wonderful person. A source of pride and reassurance, something we could do with in these challenging times!