In light of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we are sharing a story from our archives about three Meredith students who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the Queen while studying abroad in London. The story below was originally published in the Winter 2005 issue of Meredith Magazine.
Meredith Study Abroad Results in Meeting Queen Elizabeth II
Three students participating in a Meredith College study abroad program in London met Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, July 6, 2004, following the dedication of a memorial fountain for Princess Diana.
Meredith seniors Sarah Margaret Tulloss, Paige Walston, and Kelly Jones attended the dedication ceremony, along with others from the College.
“We left to go to the Princess Diana Memorial that morning at 7,” said Jones, a human communication major from Wilson, N.C. “We got the front row around the gate and had a very good view.”
The three decided to remain at the memorial following the dedication. “At first we didn’t believe the Queen would make her rounds in front of the public because after she opened the memorial she went inside the building,” Jones said.
When the Queen and Prince Phillip returned to greet the crowd following a private reception, the students made the most of this chance encounter.
“I knew that you were not supposed to speak to the Queen unless spoken to, but I realized that I should not let this opportunity pass,” said Tulloss, an international studies major from Rocky Mount, N.C. “Therefore I tried to say as politely and convincingly as I could, with the Queen looking directly in my eyes, ‘Lovely speech ma’am’.”
During the short conversation that followed, the Queen asked the students about their visit, where they were from, and how long they would be in London.
Jones said Queen Elizabeth was “more interested in us than I thought the Queen of England would be.”
Walston, a political science major from Wilson, N.C., summed up the experience by saying, “We were hoping to meet Prince William, but meeting the Queen was spectacular. We never thought in a million years the Queen of England would stop to chat with a couple of North Carolinians!”
Study Abroad director Betty Webb said this is the first time in the 30-plus year history of the Meredith Abroad program that students have met with a member of the royal family.
“First we were mentioned in a Tom Stoppard play in the West End, then we were in the Economist Magazine, in the background of a photo of Tony Blair,” Webb said. “Now we were in conversation with the Queen.”
Jones decided to study abroad because she felt the program would give her experience that would not be offered anywhere else. “So far, it has proven all my expectations of it.”