Following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh in April, Brian and Beryl Brown recall an enjoyable meeting with the royal couple in 1965.
Brian and I met when Brian was on holiday in Guernsey following his graduation from the RAF Technical School. For two years we kept in touch by letters and visits both in Guernsey and Peterborough. When Brian was posted to Germany, we decided to get married and live in Germany. Being too young for married quarters, we arranged to live in a local family house approved by the RAF. Herr and Frau Reiger, daughter Monica and Oma (Grandma) made us very welcome. We had two rooms, a small bathroom and were very happy in our first home.
In 1965 The Queen and Prince Philip made a state visit to Germany and included visits to her Armed Forces; this was the Cold War period. During their visit to RAF Gutersloh five couples were selected to meet The Queen and Prince Philip. We represented No 4 (FR) Squadron.
On the day, we assembled in a small lounge and were told that the meeting would be an informal occasion. We were given a small drink to hold and positioned in our pairs around the lounge. The Queen and Prince Philip entered without fanfare and moved amongst us chatting to each couple.
Prince Philip spoke to us first and was interested in Brian’s work with the squadron. He then asked where we were from; when we replied Peterborough and Guernsey, he wanted to know how we met. We told him Brian was on holiday in Guernsey; he laughed and said, “Wonderful, holiday romances – you can’t beat them”. We told him we had just married and this was our first overseas posting. He then asked where we lived so we explained we had an apartment in the house of a local family.
The Queen then came towards us and Prince Philip told her we were newly married and lived in town. The Queen was very interested in our apartment and the family house. She asked if we spoke German and were we happy to be living in the local town. She also asked about local activities and did we take part with local people.
Moving on, she gave us a lovely smile and wished us a very happy future. Prince Philip waved goodbye to the group saying, “Carry on and enjoy your gypsy life style” as he walked out laughing. The Queen and Prince Philip were relaxed, warm and friendly and seemed genuinely interested in our life and activities.