One of Queen Elizabeth II’s former butlers paid tribute to the late monarch, remembering her as a “surrogate mother.”
Paul Burrell stood by Elizabeth’s side for 11 years, working as a butler for her during a portion of her 70 years on the throne.
News of Elizabeth’s passing sent shockwaves around the globe on Thursday when the royal family announced her death from Balmoral Castle.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Burrell said on TalkTV’s “The News Desk.”
“I am devastated to know the queen is no longer there. For me she was my surrogate mother in many ways, she was incredibly warm.”
In an interview with Australian radio hosts on Friday, he recalled a story from “years ago” about how they also had a bit of fun together at Buckingham Palace.
“She was just such an amazing, she was just such an amazing, such an amazing character,” he said. “I’ve got so many great memories. I even remember one occasion, running down a corridor with her. I can’t remember what I was doing, but I was I was doing something and she started kind of running.”
“I was thinking, ‘Nobody’s gonna believe that I’ve actually been running with the queen,” he added. “It was a very fast run, it was hard to keep up with her.”
“She’s been a big part of my life as she has for everyone in our country, but for me – standing by her for 11 years and traveling the world with her — she was always there for me and my wife and my children in our early days,” he told TalkTV’s “The News Desk.”
The 64-year-old shared how Elizabeth introduced him to his wife, encouraged him to get married and even went so far as to arrange his honeymoon at her favorite castle.
“She instigated me getting married in the first place. She said, ‘Paul you’ll find marriage is a wonderful institution once you have children. The glue that holds your family together are your children. You won’t regret it.’ “
“And so I married Prince Philip’s maid, and she said, ‘Where are you going on your honeymoon?’ and I said. ‘We’re thinking of going to [Welsh seaside town] Rhyl, your majesty.’ ‘Rhyl?’ she said. ‘Not that Rhyl isn’t a place to go to, but you’ll go to Balmoral.’ “
The newlywed couple graciously accepted the Elizabeth’s invitation to her Scottish residence. “Nine months later, our first son arrived, so I have a lot to thank the queen for,” he said.
“She’s always been there – wonderful, incredible, selfless.”
In 1947, at 21 years old, Elizabeth vowed that her “whole life, whether it be short or long, will be devoted to your service.” She was later crowned at 25 years old and became a steadfast icon in Britain and beyond during her historical reign.
“She was a good boss, she looked after the people who looked after her. She was always there for the people that served her, and she took a personal interest in their lives. I can’t tell you how many times she intervened in my family life,” Burrell continued.
“When we had children living in the Royal Mews, she said, ‘You don’t have a garden. I’ll find you a key for the garden of Buckingham Palace.’ She let my children play in the garden of Buckingham Palace – not many monarchs would do that, would they?”
After Elizabeth’s death was announced to the world, her 73-year-old son immediately became King Charles III. He is set to address the nation on Friday and be officially proclaimed king on Saturday at St James’s Palace in London, in front of a ceremonial body known as the Accession Council.
No coronation date has been set yet.