Former protection officer recounts moment tourists did not recognise Queen

Richard Griffin was speaking to Sky News as part of its coverage of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The Queen met the American tourists near her residence, Balmoral Castle (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The Queen met the American tourists near her residence, Balmoral Castle (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A former Royal protection officer has recounted the moment he and the Queen met two American tourists who did not recognise the monarch.

Speaking to Sky News as part of its coverage of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Richard Griffin said he was accompanying the Queen on a picnic in Balmoral when they met the pair of Americans who were on a walking holiday.

“The Queen would always stop and say hello” when she met people, Mr Griffin said, and they greeted the two tourists.

“It was clear from the moment that we first stopped (that) they hadn’t recognised the Queen, the American gentleman was telling the Queen where he’d come from, where they were going to next, and where they’d been to in Britain.

I could see it coming, and sure enough, the tourist said to Her Majesty, where do you live?

Richard Griffin, former royal protection officer

“I could see it coming, and sure enough, he said to Her Majesty, ‘And where do you live?’

“She said, ‘Well, I live in London, but I’ve got a holiday home just the other side of the hills’,” referring to Balmoral.

According to Mr Griffin, the American tourist then asked the Queen how long she had been visiting the area.

When she replied that she had been doing so for “over 80 years”, the tourist said: “Well, if you’ve been coming up for 80 years, you must have met the Queen.”

“As quick as a flash she says, ‘well, I haven’t, but Dickie here meets her regularly’,” Mr Griffin said.

The tourist, turning to Mr Griffin, then asked what the Queen is like, to which he replied: “She can be very cantankerous at times, but she’s got a lovely sense of humour,”, adding: “I knew I could pull her leg.”

Moments later, the tourist posed next to Mr Griffin, and, still unaware of her identity, asked the Queen to take a photo of them.

Mr Griffin and the Queen then swapped places, he said, and he took a photo of the monarch with the tourists.

“We waved goodbye”, Mr Griffin said, “And then Her Majesty said to me, ‘I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to friends in America. Hopefully, someone tells him who I am’.”

Balmoral, one of the royals’ favourite places, holds many memories for the Queen.

It is her private home, handed down through generations of royals after being bought for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852.

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