28th May 2012 Chevening, UK

Chevening Scholars meeting Her Majesty the Queen

Benedict Carandang is a Chevening Scholar from the Philippines pursuing his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Westminster. He currently resides at Goodenough College located in Bloomsbury, London. In our latest blog Benedict tells us about the time he met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

The Diamond Jubilee is coming up, and preparations for this huge celebration are well underway.  This is a special milestone in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who has sat on the throne of England for 60 years. Many of us are curious, what would it be like to meet the Queen?  A lot of people visit Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle hoping to catch a glimpse of her.

Luckily for me, my opportunity came last November. It was the 80th Anniversary of Goodenough College and the The Queen is the Patron of this institution. She has been a regular visitor in each of its milestones since 1953 when she was still Princess Elizabeth and became its Patron. There are around 25  of the 300 plus Chevening Scholars studying in London who live at Goodenough aside from me and we all had the opportunity to meet her. Goodenough College is located in Bloomsbury, close to the British Museum which the Queen was visiting on the same day.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Visits Goodenough College
Chevening Scholars meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Benedict can be seen holding up his IPad

Prior to the big day, we were informed by the Director of the College, Major-General Andrew Ritchie CBE, of the upcoming royal visit so that we can all prepare ourselves and put our best foot forward for the visit of the Queen. It also happens to be that our Director was formerly the Commandant of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst when Prince William and Prince Harry were there and has met the Queen several times.

We were told of the proper etiquette and protocol on how we should behave when we meet the Monarch. There are no obligatory codes of behaviour, just politeness. However, many people wish to observe the traditional forms of greeting. For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way. When presented to the Queen, the correct formal address is ‘Your Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Ma’am’ (as in ‘jam’).

The other Chevening Scholars had the chance to shake her hand while I was able to videotape her and meet her briefly as her entourage was entering and leaving the college. There were photographers but I used my Ipad to capture a video. She was a gracious and energetic lady, always smiling and greeting people.  She is really charming and charismatic like our grandmothers. Every one was following her every move but she was a gracious guest despite the number of people flocking her even when others have broken etiquette and protocol.

Queen Elizabeth II Visits Goodenough College
Chevening Scholars meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Goodenough College

All I can say is that this is THE Ultimate British Cultural experience one person can get in the UK. Along with my fellow Chevening Scholars, we were all lucky to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of meeting her!  Thank you ‘GREAT BRITAIN.’

If you are a Chevening scholar or alumnus and you would like to submit a blog entry, please get in touch. You can get in touch with me, Declan Byrne, via the Chevening Community website, the official Chevening groups on Facebook or Linkedin or you can contact your local British Embassy/High Commission. Entries should be 500 to 700 words please. Remember that you can link to your own blog page if you have more to say. We would be particularly interested to hear about the experiences of the UK from our new 2012/2013 scholars.