Alistair Carmichael recounts being told off by the Queen over horse show clash

Next up in our Parliamentarians’ tributes to the Queen is Alistair Carmichael who has some very funny stories to tell about the Queen, including the time when she expressed disapproval about the State Opening of Parliament clashing with the first day of the Windsor Horse Show:

The text is below:

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for the opportunity to try to articulate the keen and profound sense of loss across the northern isles.

Her Majesty made a number of visits to Orkney and Shetland during her reign, all of which built a real connection between Orcadians and Shetlanders and their monarch. One of the best remembered was in 1960, when she took the royal yacht Britannia to Stronsay and Westray in Orkney. Prince Philip was given the job of driving her round Westray in the most suitable available vehicle, the new 12-seater school bus. It was produced one of the best pictures of Her Majesty that any of us will ever see. She is sitting in the passenger seat, laughing uproariously, while Prince Philip is in the driver’s seat with, shall we say, with a look of grim determination on his face. I do not know exactly what caused that look, but having been there myself with my wife on occasion I can only guess.

Her Majesty visited Shetland in 1981, as its oil came onstream at the Sullom Voe terminal. She opened the terminal—something which was remembered on Shetland, unfortunately, because it was the day the IRA detonated a bomb in the power station there. While we all speak of her quite remarkable record of service, we should not forget that that service often came at personal risk.

Like others, I treasure my moments meeting Her Majesty—very private and special moments. I served as Comptroller of the Household from 2010 to 2013, so I had a walk-on part in the state opening of Parliament. In 2013, we had the misfortune of a state opening which clashed with the first day of the Windsor horse show. When we returned to Buckingham Palace after state opening we were left in no doubt that should that unfortunate diary mismanagement happen in future it would not necessarily be the Windsor horse show that would lose out.

I think back to the very first time I saw Her Majesty in the flesh, when she visited Islay when I was growing up in 1977, as part of her silver jubilee tour. She often visited Islay privately as a guest of the Morrison family, and I pay tribute not just to Her Majesty but to the honourable Mary Morrison, who served for many years as one of her ladies-in-waiting. On that occasion, she Toggle showing location ofColumn 562visited Bowmore distillery. It was the first time she had visited a distillery, and that visit came back to me in 2014, when I was present as Secretary of State for Scotland at the naming of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. As the carrier was named, a bottle of Bowmore whisky was smashed on its side. The smell of that malt whisky drifted across Rosyth and took me back to that day in 1977. I mention that because Her Majesty wove these threads throughout the lives of so many people, and enriched the fabric of our country. That is why we miss her and why we now pledge our new allegiance to His Majesty the King. God save the King.

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