By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
“She was so trusted and was brilliant at making people feel at ease. You would be in awe of meeting this great lady and, when you actually started talking to her, she had a wicked sense of humour.
“She would always have a joke with you but, through the way she would talk and what she would talk about, you would feel like she knew you and you knew her – that’s a rare quality.”
These are the memories of Sir John Peace, Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, who has remembered and celebrated the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II following her death.
The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire at the age of 96 on Thursday evening, bringing to an end her historic and record-breaking 70-year reign on the throne.
Tributes have flooded in from across the world as it begins to come to terms with her death and the United Kingdom enters a period of mourning.
King Charles III officially became the Sovereign on Thursday when her death was confirmed, with the new King pictured outside Buckingham Palace meeting members of the public as he prepares to be proclaimed tomorrow.
Now Sir John, who was the Queen’s official representative in Nottinghamshire and now represents King Charles, has paid a heartfelt tribute to the late monarch.
The Lord-Lieutenant, who met Her Majesty on numerous occasions, described her as a “truly remarkable lady” and revealed where he was when he found out about her death.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “You have those JFK moments, those 9/11 moments – those things you never forget – and this was one of them.
“Purely by chance, I was meeting the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and we were going to go to dinner together.
“At 6.30pm, I stood outside his door and he got a call from Lambeth Palace with the news and I got a call from the Cabinet Office – he opened the door and we both said we knew.
“The shock hit in because we just didn’t expect it last night. I think that’s largely the reason why people are a bit numb today.
“My reaction was deep sadness, my mind was spinning in many directions but, as this morning has developed, it has become clear she meant a huge amount to the people of Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands.
“People respected her, they trusted her – integrity was immense in everything she did and that’s particularly rare these days.
“To have someone of that stature was very special and I think people feel this very personally – no longer having this rock who’s been our Queen for the past 70 years.”
On the accession of King Charles, Sir John said he has been an “impeccable” son and will be a “great king”.
He said: “A change of monarch affects everybody, I’ve met King Charles and I think he will be a great king, but we need to give him time.
“He’s following on from his mother and has been impeccable as a son, you can see she has prepared him.”
Councillor Ben Bradley (Con), Mansfield’s MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, also paid tribute to Her Majesty on Friday.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I’ve never been lucky enough to meet her but I’ve been in rooms with her and you could really feel her presence as she moved around the room.
“She held the room and everyone’s attention, she was an incredible woman and we will never again see that diligence, that dutiful nature and commitment and everything she immortalised in our country’s history.
“With the end of one era starts a new one and we now have a king.
“It’s something we’re going to have to get used to saying, to some extent, and King Charles will want to step into that space and provide continuity to people in these challenging times.”
Nottingham City Council will continue with its planned full council meeting on Monday (September 12) on a reduced agenda, with councillors to be given the opportunity to make comments on The Queen.
However, Nottinghamshire County Council and several other local authorities have cancelled scheduled council meetings next week while the nation mourns.
This will continue until after the state funeral, which is expected to take place on Monday, September 19.
The county council is also hosting a proclamation ceremony at County Hall on Sunday to mark the accession of King Charles.