As the nation looks forward to the Coronation weekend, Hertfordshire officers share their experiences of unexpectedly meeting His Majesty King Charles in recent months.
When Local Policing Command Superintendent Clare Smith and Hertsmere Chief Inspector Mark Bilsdon were invited to an event at the Community Security Trust’s (CST) headquarters in north London, they unexpectedly found themselves as part of the line up to meet the King.
Officers in Hertsmere regularly work with CST, a charity that aims to protect and promote Jewish communities in the UK.
Mark said of the special meeting: “It was an incredible honour that was completely unexpected!
“We were both nervous and excited and I was not sure what to expect. We were told that we would participate in a line up with seven other police officers from around the country, as well as CST trustees and volunteers.
“The King took his time and came around to everyone, shaking our hands and speaking to us all. It was a brief but momentous event in my policing career and an incredible honour to be able to represent all of the hard work completed every day by the officers and staff in Hertsmere.”
Clare added: “It was an honour and a privilege and I was conscious that I may never get another chance to meet a monarch. We were briefed that he may not speak to all of us in the line up, so I was pleasantly surprised that he took the time to speak to every single one of us.
“He was utterly charming and he thanked us (the police) for the work we are doing. After he left there was such great energy in the room.”
Inspector Matt Curnow led a group of Hertfordshire officers offering mutual aid to the large policing operation in London that followed the death of Elizabeth II.
Part of their duties was to patrol Whitehall as the public descended on Central London to pay their respects, however Matt then received a call to attend Lambeth Police Headquarters with his officers to be thanked by Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley for their support.
“We were waiting in a room with some officers from other forces and in came the Commissioner, then the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London,” Matt said. “They thanked us for our help in policing the event. Then the doors opened again and the King walks in! It was completely unexpected.
“It was a real honour. To think I took the oath of allegiance to the Queen some 26 years ago and now I was meeting the King – it is something I will never forget.”
King Charles thanked the officers and spoke directly to a select few of them, including PC Lauren Taylor, who was then only two years into her service.
“The King asked us if we had been forced to take part or if we had volunteered and we all said we had volunteered!” remembered Lauren.
“He was very nice and kind. To think that he had just lost his mother and he was out working and meeting people. If it had happened to anyone else, they would take some time off. But he was there thanking us for our service.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved in the whole event – the way everyone came together, it is something we do well in this country.”
Matt added: “Although it was a sombre time, it was also a celebration [of the life of the Queen] and as a policing operation it was an absolute joy to be involved in. The public were constantly speaking to us and thanking us for our work. It was like good old-fashioned policing. The Coronation will be the same I am sure.”