Happy 90th birthday Ma’am!
Queen Elizabeth II turns 90 this year, and celebrations are kicking off all over the UK this week. We’re looking back at the Queen – and her knitting – with a gorgeous celebratory pattern too!
Merion’s Dad, Clarinettist John Denman
If you’ve lived in the UK during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, chances are you’ll either know somebody who has met her, stood near her, or seen her – she’s the kind of queen who has been very accessible to the great British public, whether on walkabout at modern events, or many years ago, during the war, driving ambulances and knitting socks for soldiers.
Both of my parents met the Queen – my father was in the Life Guards (part of the Household Cavalry) one of those fabulously dashing soldiers with white plumed helmets as you can see in the photo above. He’s holding a clarinet because he was in the Band of the Life Guards – he even played at the Queen’s coronation! (That beautiful horse was called Ironside; he lived on a diet of Welsh cakes, sent to my father through the post, by his loving Welsh mother!)
My mother, who was an actress, met the Queen on two occasions, both after Royal Command Performances, and remembers her as very friendly and interested in everyone she met.
There was great respect for the Queen then, as now, perhaps due to her purposeful and modest manner. She was brought up during a period of hardship when Britain (and so much of the world) was battling recession. The Queen embraced the make-do-and-mend culture that was so necessary during the war, and was often pictured – in solidarity with the country – knitting.
Merion’s mum, Sonia Rees, as Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, London 1961
During the war, knitting wasn’t just a hobby, it was an earnest form of patriotism – soldiers needed warm clothes but most of all socks – and so everyone knitted!
Princesses Margaret (left) and Elizabeth (right), knitting at Windsor Castle
Everyone knitted for the Forces!
Note the Princess Elizabeth’s double pointed needles!
Belinda Harris-Reid, one of our fabulous British indie designers, was commissioned to design and knit cushions for The Campaign for Real Wool for the Queen’s Jubilee Thames Pageant in 2012. She remembers that as she waved to the Royal Barge (with those very cushions aboard) from Blackfriars Bridge, the Queen waved back! This inspired Belinda to design a beautiful shawl pattern called “The Royal Wave” that you can knit in any fingering weight/4ply or 3ply yarn.
If you happen to meet the Queen during this year’s celebrations, we’ve found a few interesting etiquette facts for you!
– When introduced to the Queen, you should address her as “Your Majesty” or “Your Royal Highness” – from then on, you may call her “Ma’am” which should be pronounced to rhyme with “Pam”.
– When introduced to the men of the Royal Family, address them initially as “Your Royal Highness” and from then on, as “Sir”.
– When introduced, ladies should curtsey, and men should bow from the shoulders, or if you prefer, a handshake is acceptable.
Happy Birthday Ma’am!
We hope someone is knitting you something lovely for your birthday!
(Keep an eye out for some Royal Knitting Patterns later this week!)
Last updated: June 6th, 2016.