Memories of Monarchy: Reflections from Residents at Boutique Care Homes

Over the past century, the United Kingdom has experienced significant change, and the monarchy has been a constant presence throughout. From the reign of King George V to the current monarch, Charles III, the royal family has played an integral role in the history of the country.

During this time, the UK has gone through significant social and political changes, including the two World Wars, the decline of the British Empire, and the rise of the digital age. Through it all, the monarchy has remained a symbol of national identity and continuity.

We spoke with residents at Boutique Care Homes about their memories of the monarchy, their favourite moments and events, and their advice for the future King Charles. Here are some of their reflections:

Patricia Godfrey, born in 1923, a resident at Brampton Manor, Newmarket recalls King George V fondly, “He was an excellent man. I remember him coming through Frome, people were lining the streets, cheering and celebrating. He was so popular; it was lovely.” Patricia also remembers the Queen’s coronation and the party in her village.

Pamela Beckett, born in 1922, a resident at The Burlington, Shepperton remembers watching the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to the Duke of Edinburgh on television. Pamela also recalls meeting the royal family members since she lived in Windsor, “I had a friend who was part of the orchestra. I remember watching Philip playing polo, and he broke his polo stick!”

Diana Dickenson, born in 1940, a resident at Chartwell House, Broadstairs remembers going to the state opening of Parliament with her mother when King George was on the throne, “We stood in the mall in the late 40s to watch the golden coach go by. I also remember the King dying. I was at school, and they called us all into the school hall and solemnly told us that we now had a queen.”

Diana also remembers Princess Diana’s appointment as the Colonel in chief of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, “My husband was in the Middlesex’s regiment and it was amalgamated into the PWRR. The ceremony took place at Howe Barracks in Canterbury. I remember standing next to Princess Diana. She turned round and said, ‘Come on, ladies, let’s find the loo, let’s take our tights off. It’s far too hot for these.’”

When asked what they think the most significant event or moment of the past three monarchs’ reigns have been, Patricia Godfrey says that it was King Edward VIII’s abdication for Mrs Simpson, “It was the talk of the land!” Diana Dickenson thinks that the invasion of Ukraine and the threat of nuclear war would have worried Queen Elizabeth II quite considerably prior to her death. Pamela Beckett remembers when Diana Princess of Wales died, “I remember seeing her being taken up to Scotland; it was so sad.”

The world has undoubtedly changed a lot since the birth of these ladies, and the role of the monarchy has also evolved. Diana stated that the monarchs have not altered much during her lifetime, but Charles has made an impact in wildlife protection, especially in Kenya. She also pointed out the significance of the Duke of Edinburgh award, which has “had a big influence on young people, particularly in the London boroughs.”

Patricia, on the other hand, believes that the world has become more open, and people do what they want now. However, she also noted that the public’s respect for the monarchy has changed. “The Monarchy used to be more in with the people,” she said. “I’m not sure the public respects the monarchy as we once did.”

When asked about the most important quality a monarch should have, Diana highlighted honesty and sincerity. She also mentioned the importance of a good memory, stating that keeping information without mixing it up is “quite an art form.” Patricia echoed the same sentiment about sincerity, suggesting that if a monarch possesses this quality, then “they will be okay.”

Both Diana and Pamela, when asked about their favourite memory of King Charles, praised his down-to-earth nature. Diana described Charles as “a man of the earth”, who enjoys gardening, if he talks to flowers, he can’t be all that bad.” Pamela added that she found him to be a very modern man.

The monarchy has undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping the identity of British citizens. Diana believes that the way the monarchy enunciates has influenced how the British speak and are proud of their nationality. “Charles, in particular, has done well in promoting the culture of Great Britain.”

Lastly, when asked about their advice to King Charles, Diana suggested that he keeps his eyes and ears open and evaluates everything he is told for himself. “I think he is quite capable of that,” she added. Patricia, meanwhile, encouraged him to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, who was friendly with everyone and would make time for anyone.

The monarchy has undoubtedly played a role in shaping the identity of the British people, and as the world continues to change, the role of the monarchy will continue to evolve. With the succession of King Charles, it will be interesting to see how he takes on the role and continues to shape the monarchy’s legacy.

All of the residents interviewed commented that they are eagerly awaiting the celebrations planned to mark this momentous occasion of King Charles coronation.