Queen British Royal family members
Members of Britain's royal family Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles cheer as competitors participate in a sack race at the Braemar Gathering in Braemar, Scotland, Britain, September 1, 2012. Image Credit: Reuters

London: The story of how the Queen handled an encounter with a hiker who did not recognise her, recounted by a former bodyguard who was with her that day, revealed the fun-loving side of her personality that the public rarely saw.

Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday aged 96 after more than 70 years on the throne.

The monarch was out in the hills near her Scottish castle at Balmoral when two tourists from America on a walking holiday approached and one of them engaged her in conversation, said former royal protection officer Richard Griffin.

The hiker asked the queen where she lived, so she said “London”, adding that she had a holiday home just over the hill and had been visiting the area for more than 80 years since she was a little girl.

She did not say she was referring to Balmoral, a castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which is a royal residence, originally built as a hunting lodge around 1390.

Aware that the castle was in the vicinity, the hiker then asked her if she had ever met the queen, Griffin said.

“Quick as a flash she said: ‘I haven’t, but Dick here meets her regularly’,” Griffin recounted on Sky News during celebrations of Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne earlier this year.

The hiker then asked Griffin what the monarch was like in person.

“Because I was with her a long time and I knew I could pull her leg (tease her), I said ‘oh, she can be very cantankerous at times, but she’s got a lovely sense of humour’,” Griffin recalled.

Delighted, the hiker then put his arm around Griffin’s shoulder and asked if he could have a picture of the two of them together.

“Before I could see what was happening, he gets his camera and gives it to the queen and says ‘can you take a picture of us?'”

The queen obliged, and then Griffin took the camera and took a picture of her with the pair of hikers.

The queen obliged, and then Griffin took the camera and took a picture of her with the pair of hikers.

Later, Griffin said, the queen told him: “I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to friends in America and hopefully someone tells him who I am.”


Queen Elizabeth II notched up a number of landmarks in her record-breaking 70 years on the throne.

Elizabeth reigned for 70 years and nearly four months - longer than any other monarch in British history. The previous record was held by her great-great-grandmother queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years, seven months and two days until 1901.

Until her death on Thursday aged 96, Elizabeth was the oldest current monarch and head of state in the world. Only two kings have ruled for longer: France’s Louis XIV - more than 72 years between 1643 and 1715 - and Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej - 70 years and four months, until his death in October 2016.

The queen travelled to more than 100 countries since 1952 - another record for a British monarch - and made more than 150 visits to Commonwealth nations. She went to Canada 22 times - more than any other country. In Europe, she visited France the most - 13 times - and spoke the language.

The Daily Telegraph calculated that she travelled the equivalent of 42 times around the world before stopping overseas trips in November 2015 aged 89. Her longest foreign trip lasted 168 days from November 1953 to May 1954 during which she visited 13 countries.


As a 21-year-old princess, Elizabeth pledged her life to the service of the Commonwealth. As queen, she carried out some 21,000 engagements, gave royal assent to 4,000 pieces of legislation, and hosted 112 state visits of foreign heads of state.

Among those she hosted were emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1954), Japan’s emperor Hirohito (1971), president Lech Walesa of Poland (1991) and US president Barack Obama (2011).More than 180 garden parties have been hosted at Buckingham Palace, attended by more than 1.5 million people.

Politics and religion

A total of 15 British prime ministers served under the queen. Her first was Winston Churchill (1952-1955) and the last was Liz Truss, who was appointed only on Tuesday. She held regular private meetings with her prime minister of the day, usually at Buckingham Palace on a weekly basis.

Elizabeth II met 13 out of the last 14 US presidents with the exception of Lyndon B Johnson. Her last visitor from the White House was Joe Biden in 2021.

The queen was the supreme governor of the Church of England, a position dating back to the creation of the church under Henry VIII in the 16th century. She met four popes on official visits - John XXIII (1961), John Paul II (1980, 1982 and 2000), Benedict XVI (2010) and Francis I (2014).

In 1997, she launched the Buckingham Palace website and in 2014 sent her first tweet. Three years ago, she made her debut on Instagram.


The queen is the only monarch to have jumped out of a helicopter with James Bond and parachuted into the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Kind of. She and her beloved corgis made a cameo appearance at the 2012 London Games with 007 actor Daniel Craig, before a stuntman made the leap.