Patrick Nolan hold a photo of him meeting Queen Elizabeth II. (Source: rnz.co.nz)
For 16 years from 1992, Feilding man Patrick Nolan was one of the Queen’s bodyguards – the traditional kind, living in the Tower of London.
He was the first non-British serviceman to hold the post of yeoman warder, colloquially known as a beefeater.
The walls of the Feilding home he shares with his wife Dawn are festooned with memories from London and this morning the New Zealand flag on his front lawn was lowered to half-mast in mourning for the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Nolan said the best memories he and his wife held were of people, including the Queen.
“Meeting the Queen was a privilege. We were her bodyguards, as yeoman warders.
“I met her innumerable times. We were a bit privileged so we did a couple more garden parties than the average person did.
“We did one to celebrate her golden jubilee, where all of her bodyguards were in the palace. It was a cracking day. All the royals were there.”
The Queen was a calming presence, albeit, with a wicked sense of humour, Nolan said.
He would give advice to nervous subjects before a meeting, telling them to pretend they were speaking to their nan.
“There was an aura around her. She was dignified,” he said.
“When she spoke to you she was interested. She totally zoomed in on you and then she would talk, ask a question or two maybe, and then move on.
“It wasn’t like she’d turned you off – it was just time to move on, and she did it so very very well.”