A funny story, told by former Royal Protection Officer Richard Griffin, about how an oblivious American tourist failed to recognize the Queen and asked her to take a photo of him with her security officer is being shared across the internet after the monarch’s passing yesterday.
Griffin was speaking to Sky News in June for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations which marked 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, just a few months before her death.
Griffin tells how he was walking with the Queen near Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the Queen’s retreat, and where she died this week.
On their walk they bumped into two American hikers on a walking holiday.
“It was clear from the moment we stopped they hadn’t recognized the Queen, which is fine,” says Griffin.
After the parties exchanged small talk about the tourists’ holiday in Britain, the American gentleman asked the Queen where she lived.
Elizabeth told the tourist that she lives in London but has a “holiday home” in Aberdeenshire, the area of Scotland where Balmoral Castle is located.
The hapless tourist asked the Queen how often she had visited the area to which the monarch replied: “I’ve been coming up here since I was a little girl, so over 80 years.”
“Well, if you’ve been coming up here for 80 years you must have met the Queen,” the American replied.
Without missing a beat, Elizabeth said: “Well, I haven’t. But Dick here meets her regularly,” gesturing at her Protection Officer.
The excited tourist turned to Griffin and asked him what the Queen is like.
“And because I was with her a long time I knew I could pull her leg [make fun]. So I said ‘She can be very cantankerous at times, but she’s got a lovely sense of humor,” he said to Sky News.
“Anyway, next thing I knew, this guy comes round, puts his arm around my shoulder and gets his camera, gives it to the Queen, and says ‘Can you take a picture of the two of us?'”
After the photo was taken they swapped places and Griffin took a photo of the Queen with the clueless tourist without ever revealing her true identity.
“We waved goodbye and Her Majesty said to me, ‘I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to his friends in America and hopefully someone tells him who I am.'”
In her entire life, Queen Elizabeth II never gave a single interview so wonderful anecdotes such as this one reveal what her personality was like.