The Queen was in my kitchen


Jerome Lim
Lim, Jerome

The highlight of what was a most memorable childhood, was the visit of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England, to the 3-Room flat that I lived in in Toa Payoh in 1972. Living on the top floor in the then VIP block with a roof-top viewing gallery in Toa Payoh, in a unit just by where the only lift that went right up opened, brought a stream of dignitaries to the flat. This included John Gorton, the Prime Minister of Australia in 1968, and President Benjamin Sheares of Singapore in 1971. It was the Queen's visit however, that I would remember most.

My family had been contacted by the HDB in the lead-up to the visit, first to seek permission, and then to be prepared for the visit. There was a lot of protocol that we were made aware of, as well as a makeover my parents decided to do to the flat in preparation for the visit. Being in the afternoon session, the afternoon's visit which took place on a weekday, meant that I had to skip classes (not that I minded). 

When the Queen did appear at the doorway, I had been caught unawares sitting on a sofa - one of the things I well remember was watching myself scrambling to my feet on the evening's news. Besides the Queen, her consort - the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip and her daughter, Princess Anne, also visited. The Royal family were shown round the flat by my parents and senior HDB officials and perhaps because of the view the kitchen windows offered, spent more time in kitchen than in any other part of the flat (see picture).

The visit was brief, and in a flash it was all over. Following the visit, what I remember most was my reluctance to wash my hands - it was because a neighbour had told me that I should not wash my hands after skaing the Queen's hand as it would wash the luck away!