‘She was with it 100%’: Scottish church’s moderator recalls recent visit to Queen – The Guardian

Iain Greenshields, who went to Balmoral last weekend, says she looked frail, but retained vitality in conversation
One recent visitor to Balmoral has described how the Queen’s evident frailty was eclipsed by her vital conversation and “amazing” memory.
The Right Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, visited the Royal Deeside estate last weekend, where the Queen spoke to him about the peace she enjoyed at Balmoral and her sustaining faith.
“When I first saw her I was struck by how frail she looked,” said Greenshields, who had dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday with the late monarch.
“But as soon as she sat down she was immediately into conversation, welcoming, and the whole atmosphere changed. You were aware that you were with somebody who was with you and with it 100%.”
The moderator added: “As the conversation progressed, you were also aware you were with somebody who had done their homework. She just was absolutely engaged with good conversation, asking about my family, and the one thing that stood out was [her] memory.
“For somebody of her age to have the clarity of looking back to the past and remembering the things that she did was amazing. She didn’t need prompted by anybody around her.”
The Queen’s passion for her Highland surroundings came across “very, very strongly”, he added. “She said it gave her a great deal of peace and pleasure to be at Balmoral. She wandered over to the window and she was looking out, explaining to me the garden and how it had developed.”
The pair also discussed the “very personal interest” she took in the Church of Scotland – she wrote annual letters to be read at the general assembly meeting. “She understood the issues that affected the church and the challenges that were before us,” said Greenshields.
“She mentioned how important her faith had been to her right through her life, and that there were particular people who had had a significant influence on that.”
Greenshields said that reports on Thursday that doctors were concerned for the Queen’s health came as a shock after he bade farewell to her on Sunday, when she was “very positive, on good form after lunch”.
“I just find it very difficult to believe that she’s not here.”
He brought a gift of a tactile wooden cross, made by prisoners at HMP Glenochil from recycled church pews.
“You wonder, what can you give to the person who has everything? I offered that to her, and she very graciously received it and wished me all the best. Her leaving the room holding that cross will be my enduring memory.”


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