Kristin Downey: Send Her Victorious – Memories of Queen Elizabeth II

Memories of Childhood and a Jubilee Quilt

Australia didn’t have its own National Anthem until 1984, and I seem to remember singing God Save the Queen every day on the parade ground of my small Queensland country school as we honoured the flag before starting the school day.

Memory is an elusive thing, so it’s quite possible singing God Save the Queen has become magnified in my mind over the years, but I know we sang it often enough that I will never forget the words – at least of the first verse.

I also have another memory that I can’t quite pin down, of being crushed in the crowd in Brisbane as we all craned our necks to see the Queen drive by – likely on her 1963 tour of Australia, when I would have been six or seven. But I can’t be sure that’s a true recollection.

Given the insubstantial nature of my early memories, it is safer to write about my more recent memories of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated in June 2012.

Rod and I spent the first six months of 2012 in Cambridge (UK), where he was a visiting fellow at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, taking part in a world-wide celebration of Alan Turing’s life and scientific impact.

I joined a number of groups as a way to meet people, and learn some new things. There was a little patchwork/quilting group that met weekly in nearby St Mark’s Church hall, so I went along.

Their group project for the term was to make a patchwork quilt as a wall hanging for local celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We each made one small, simple square, and the teacher put the whole thing together with an image of the Queen as a centre-piece.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Quilt in 2012, containing a small square made by Kristin. Photo: Supplied

It was a very joyful time in England, I was touched by the affection people felt for the Queen and their enthusiastic preparations for the Jubilee. I hadn’t quite realised until then how big a part bunting played in English celebrations.

Our group quilt added to the festivities at many a morning tea, as it moved around the Church parish in early June – it had been down to the wire as to whether it would be finished in time or not.

Rod and I didn’t take part in any of the public events, but we celebrated in a very Kiwi way with a leg of New Zealand lamb for dinner.

There was also a Scottish Country Dance connection. Johnsonville Club member Pat Reesby was on a trip through the UK and visited us in Cambridge. At the last minute, she cunningly created Union Jack hats from serviettes to make our Jubilee dinner more truly English. 

Kristin and Rod celebrating at their Queen’s Diamond Jubilee dinner wearing Union Jack hats created by Pat Reesby. Photo: Pat Reesby.
Kristin and Pat touring the old town near King’s College, Cambridge University in the lead-up to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Photo: Rod Downey

Kristin Downey
15 September 2022

Print Friendly, PDF & Email