In day three of our celebration of this year's Diamond Jubilee, Russell Leadbetter talks to two former Lord Provosts of Glasgow – Liz Cameron and Alex Mosson – about the day they talked to the Queen in Glasgow
IT takes a brave man to tell the Queen a joke, but Alex Mosson carried it off with aplomb on one of the occasions he met her.
"Whenever I met her in Glasgow she always went out of her way to make me feel relaxed," says Mr Mosson.
"She had no airs or graces, and was very down to earth. I felt that about nearly all the Royals I met.
"They never gave the impression of being hoity-toity – quite the opposite.
"They had a duty to perform, and in my experience they were only too happy to help you, and listen to whatever you had to say."
Mr Mosson had not been Lord Provost for long when he welcomed the Queen to the city in 1999, and got his first taste of Royal humour.
"I welcomed the Queen to the opening of the Lighthouse, and as we were walking towards it, she asked me, 'Have you seen the building, Lord Provost?' I said, 'Yes, Ma'am, it's quite impressive.'
"And she came back, quick as a flash, with, 'Oh, I'll be the judge of that!' I thought that was really funny."
Two years later, there was another Royal visit – this time, to open the Science Centre on the banks of the River Clyde.
Over lunch, the Lord Provost made the Queen laugh with an anecdote from a time he and Lord Younger, a former Moderator Of The General Assembly Of The Church Of Scotland, had visited Baxter House, a home for the elderly in Castlemilk.
"I told her how we had chatted to some residents and asked them how long they had been there," he says.
"We asked one woman how long she had been there and she replied: 'Ten minutes – I'm here visiting a friend.' The Queen roared with laughter at that.
"I also remember telling her a couple of daft wee jokes that got the Queen laughing hard as well. She liked her wee jokes.
"She was obviously always very well-briefed when she came to Glasgow.
"She always knew what the issues were, and always made you feel at ease."
Mr Mosson spoke with admiration of another time he met the Queen, on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee visit in May 2002.
"I met her at the airport and took her to a Thanksgiving Service at Glasgow Cathedral, and then to a marquee in George Square.
"She met a whole host of different organisations and charities – it was a very extensive and demanding programme, but she spent time with all of them and spoke to them all, and she enjoyed the experience.
"Between her and the Duke Of Edinburgh, they must have met between 400 and 500 people that day."
Mr Mosson later received a letter of thanks from the Queen's assistant private secretary – and in it, the Queen said her Glasgow visit had given her the impression of a "vibrant and varied" community.
Liz Cameron is not often at a loss for words, but the presence of the Queen once had an unfortunate effect on her.
If it was any consolation for the former Lord Provost, it was the kind of slip the monarch is bound to have seen on countless occasions over the decades.
"I met the Queen on several occasions when she was passing through the city. In 2003, there was a martial arts event at the Kelvin Hall.
"I knew off by heart the names of all the people I was going to introduce to the Queen and the Duke Of Edinburgh but when I got to the end of the line, I was so nervous I forgot the name of Bridget McConnell, who ran Culture And Sport at the city council.
"Of course, Bridget was only someone I had only worked with for about 10 years ... but I shouldn't have been nervous, because the Royal couple are so charming.
"The big occasion during my time as Lord Provost was the Royal opening of Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum in September 2006.
"This was something to which the Queen gave a huge amount of time and interest.
"I didn't know if the Queen had been to Kelvingrove before, and wondered what she would think about the different way the museum was now displaying exhibits.
"You can never speak for somebody else, but I think she really enjoyed her day, judging from the time she spent looking at the exhibits, and the time she spent in the Education Centre with local primary school children who had produced exhibits.
"That was truly gratifying. I also have a wonderful picture of her looking at the Dali painting.
"We were almost late for lunch because she had spent so much time going round the entire building with Lord Macfarlane Of Bearsden, Bridget and myself. But no-one can start lunch until Her Majesty has arrived, so that was fine."
THE former Lord Provost adds: "I had wondered what to talk to her about over lunch, but she is very good at putting you at your ease.
"She is curious about what you are doing, and what your family is doing. She also wanted to know about my connection with Kelvingrove and the city's love for the museum. That day is a huge memory for me."
In 1996, when Pat Lally was Lord Provost, and Ms Cameron was chairwoman of Cultural And Leisure Services, the Queen opened the Gallery Of Modern Art.
Ms Cameron recalls: "She was terribly interested in the fact it had been a library and that we had converted this wonderful Georgian building into an art gallery.
"Like the Princess Royal, she takes a huge interest in what is happening here. We have been extremely gratified to have been in her company so often."
The Queen's sheer command of her brief, whatever the occasion, has inspired Ms Cameron to follow suit whenever she speaks in public or opens an exhibition. She says: "The Royals do this out of courtesy to the people she meets, and I have always thought that is an example worth following."