Former navy Wren thanks Queen for rescuing her after horrific sea accident
A FORMER Navy Wren told today how the Queen came to her rescue after an horrific accident at sea – and she ended up being treated like royalty on board the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Julie Harding, then 18, was on a frigate escorting the royal vessel when she slipped on deck and a hatch crushed her finger tips.
Her Majesty, who was on a summer cruise to the Western Isles of Scotland in 1992, gave permission for Julie to be treated on board Britannia by the royal doctors.
The young Wren spent three days as the Royal Family’s unexpected guest – and even got visits from the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Edward as she recovered in the yacht’s sick bay.
The amazing experience has only now emerged after former members of Britannia’s crew tracked her down and invited her to a special 25th anniversary event last weekend.
Julie, now 43 and working at an insurance company, told how the Queen arranged for her personal doctors to carry out surgery to save her injured fingers.
The Wren, who was then known by her maiden name McPherson, was attended to by the Queen’s lady-in-waiting, who presented her with a wicker basket filled with toiletries.
She dined on special meals prepared in the royal galley and the Queen even arranged for the Royal Marine band on board to go down one morning and play a special concert just for her.
Her unfortunate accident ended with Julie making history by becoming the first woman who was not a member of the Royal Family or their retinue to be given such an honour.
Julie, from Saltash, Cornwall, returned for the first time to Britannia – now a floating museum in Leith, Edinburgh – to be reunited with the medics who saved her fingers.
She said: “The Queen gave permission for me to come on board and made sure I was well looked after.
“She even asked if she could come down and see me.
“The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Edward then paid me a visit. They spent 10 minutes talking to me, it was all a bit surreal. She asked if I was OK and if I had everything I needed.
“She sent me down the Royal puddings every night I was there. The Royal Family ate a different meal to the crew and the puddings were absolutely delicious.
“She let me use the Royal baths. She even sent the band down to cheer me up. They could not have looked after me any better.”
She added: “If we had not been travelling with the Royal yacht I would have lost the ends of my fingers.”
Eric Birkbeck, Britannia’s operating theatre manager at the time, and physio Andy Travis treated Julie and met up with her again at the weekend.
Mr Birkbeck, 70, of Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire, served on the Britannia from 1991 to 1996, the year before the royal yacht was decommissioned.
He said: “It’s fair to say that Julie felt very special during her three days on board.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK
Tags: Queen Elizabeth II, Queen, Elizabeth II, Elizabeth, Royal, British Royal Family, Royal Family, British Royal, Royal in England, Britannia