A Church of Scotland minister has recalled the Queen’s “calm and gentle smile” during the time he spent with the late monarch at Balmoral before her passing.
The Very Rev Dr Martin Fair sat next to the Queen at her Scottish residence three weeks ago for dinner.
Ahead of her funeral on Monday, the minister said that it was an “enormous privilege” to have been able to spend time with the monarch.
Dr Fair described the Queen as having been in good spirits, as they discussed a range of topics including Scottish mountains, the cost of living, and the Platinum Jubilee.
The minister also explained he told the Queen about his enjoyment of her appearance with Paddington Bear at Buckingham Palace.
“It was an enormous privilege to have spent time with her and finding her in such good spirits, bright and sharp was a joy,” said Dr Fair, who was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland between 2020 and 2021.
“We chatted about all manner of things from Scottish mountains to our respective dogs, to the cost of living crisis and her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
“I asked her what her favourite bit had been and she answered the Trooping of the Colour.
“I responded, ‘Ma’am, if I might be as bold as to say that for me and many others, the highlight was the little tea party that you shared with Paddington Bear.
“Her face lit up with the most radiant smile you could imagine and she said, ‘it was rather fun, wasn’t it?'”
The minister said that he told the Queen that she was loved and respected across Scotland.
“As I look back on that evening, I’m so glad that she was in such good form – smiling, laughing and enjoying the recounting of special memories,” he said.
“I said to her, ‘Ma’am, I hope you know just how much you’re respected and loved across Scotland?
“The Queen paused for a moment then responded, ‘perhaps you’re right, after all one has been around for quite a while’.
“But she had a calm and gentle smile at that moment and I think she knew what I was saying and that she did know how much she was loved.
“I also assured her that people of faith across the country were upholding her in prayer and she answered, ‘that’s most kind’.”