Residents in tears as they pay their respects

LOVED Richard Parsons and his wife looking at the tributes in G Collins & Sons’ window

Hundreds of residents in Tunbridge Wells have now paid their respects to Her Majesty since the news of her death broke, from signing books of condolence, to leaving floral tributes.

After hearing the news on the radio, Abigail Smith and Jenny Francis visited The Amelia on Monday (September 12) to sign the book and leave a bouquet of roses on the green outside.

Abigail told the Times: “I signed my name in the book. I said thanks for her years in service.”

Jenny added: “It is very sad. It is nice to have somewhere local we can pay our respects for The Queen that isn’t in London.”

Also signing the book of condolences at The Amelia on Monday morning was Mrs Jean Flowers, 82, who was visiting Tunbridge Wells from King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

Jean said: “She was like a grandma to me. I was only about 10 when she came to be Queen and she has been there for 70 years, so when I heard that she had died I was in lots of tears.

“I live in King’s Lynn and have been to Sandringham many times but I have never met The Queen. I think she’s been brilliant and I think King Charles will be fine. He is a much more modern king than we are used to, more open to the public and I think that is a good thing.”

Also paying their respects at The Amelia was Mrs Jones, 79, who could remember Her Majesty’s coronation in 1953.

She said: “I remember being at a party in my local village hall. We had blue, red and white ribbons in our hair and we were watching her on the black-and-white television.

“Growing up I collected every photo of The Queen I could and put them into scrap books, in the end I had five full books of just The Queen.”

She added: “My friend was her teamaker for 22 years at Buckingham Palace and Her Majesty always had a separate tray with Earl Grey every morning.

“She has done us well over the last 70 years and I think King Charles will step up to the mark, he has a sensible head on his shoulders. It’s very exciting now we have three kings to come.”

Quietly paying his respects, Roger Tanner, semi-retired from Sherwood also came to the centre to sign the book.

He remembered Her Majesty mostly for her ‘radiant smile’ as he spoke about the time he saw the young Queen.

“She was ‘The Queen of the World’ and everyone I knew loved her. Next Monday I will be sat with my tea and biscuits watching the funeral on the TV,” he said.

Richard Parsons and his wife, Jan also took time out to pay their respects. Mr Parsons said he had met Her Majesty while organising a dinner for her at the Royal Artillery officers’ mess in Woolwich.

He said: “She was among fellow officers, and thoroughly engaged with them, so she stayed later than planned.

“I remember having to form a guard of honour of officers as she was leaving, but because of the delay, we had to wait around longer. I was shepherding brigadiers and below into the open air on a cold November night to stand on the red carpet.

“She attended the dinner, and it gave us the opportunity of repainting the inside of the officer’s mess. There is a special budget to use for these occasions, to repaint the area she would be in,” Mr Parsons added.

“We even got a new toilet. It had to be a disabled one because of regulations, but she didn’t even use it.”

Some residents even ventured to London to say goodbye to Her Majesty.

Melanie Knight, 54, from Tunbridge Wells, was in tears outside Buckingham Palace when she told reporters on Saturday morning: “I’m really emotional. We just needed to be here. She’s the one constant that’s always been and it’s really strange.

“I went up in my attic yesterday specifically to find Brownie memorabilia from when I was a Brownie because I remembered I pledged my allegiance to serve The Queen and God and I’ve never ever thought about it until yesterday, but I went and photocopied the Brownie prayer and a photo of when I saw The Queen at the Essex Country Fair and posted it on Instagram.”

She added: “It’s so surreal. This just seems such a big thing.”

Ms Knight said she was concerned about the future of the Royal Family, saying: “It’s scary because you’re worried about what will happen to the Monarchy. Fundamentally this is what the United Kingdom is – the Monarchy – and there are people who want to destroy it.

“This is our history and it should be our future.”

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