Jubilee feature special: Linslade author's lunch with Queen at Buckingham Palace

In celebration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, the LBO asked readers to get in touch with their memories of her Majesty - and you didn't disappoint!

By Jo Robinson
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 9:13 pm

Linslade resident, Russell Stannard OBE, told the newspaper about the time he was invited to Buckingham Palace to have lunch, recalling toast tossing, pudding patience, and talk of Albert Einstein!

The author and broadcaster was a guest in 1997 with the likes of presenter John Humphrys, having the pleasure of sitting next to her Majesty the Queen, as well as meeting Prince Philip.

Russell had been giving talks on BBC Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day' when he received a phone call from one of the channel bosses to say that he had been invited to dine with the Queen because she wanted to take lunch "with interesting people".

Russell receiving his OBE from the Queen. Photo: Russell Stannard.

Russell, 90, told the LBO: "Naturally, at first I was very nervous but she was able to put me at ease very quickly.

"She had the most lovely personality - she must be so used to people being in awe of her that she has this extraordinary way of giving you the impression that she's just an ordinary person."

Russell admits that he can't remember what he had to eat at the palace, but revealed that he had to buy a Magnum afterwards because he didn't have time for pudding.

He laughed: "It was put in front of us but I was talking to the Queen - you don't stop and say 'excuse me Ma'am, the pudding's arrived!'

Russell Stannard

Meanwhile, it wasn't just two-legged guests that came to lunch, as Her Majesty's corgis were invited to the party, too.

Russell recalls the canines sitting on the floor between himself and the Queen, including two 'dorgis' - a corgi-dachshund cross.

Russell smiled: "She was looking round to find the other corgi or dorgi, and was told, 'Oh ma'am, I think he's skulking over there in the far corner'.

"She had a silver toast rack with delicate pieces of toast; I thought she was on a diet but the toast was for the dogs.

"She broke off a piece and slipped it down between us, and when she saw the dog in the corner, she turned in her seat and threw a bit across."

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The Queen and Russell spoke about science and religion, as well as Russell's involvement with the Open University, of which he was a founder member.

The monarch and her husband had actually met Russell before at its 10th anniversary celebrations.

Russell said: "I was talking to them about a particle accelerator in Geneva, but Prince Philip spotted that my photo was of a small one in Chicago.

"I was astonished that he could look at the equipment and know it wasn't what I wanted people to think it was.

"His background knowledge was absolutely extraordinary."

The monarch also asked questions about Russell's children's books, which explain relativity and quantum theory for 11-year-olds.

Later that same year, when Russell received his OBE, the Queen informed him that she’d given copies to Prince Harry.

Russell added: "Afterwards, I got another call from Buckingham Palace, who were sending my books to the Emperor of Japan.

"The reason? He was soon to make a state visit and the Queen thought they would make an interesting topic of conversation!"