FRIDAY, MAY 4: Merle Ratteray still cherishes her memories from the first time she saw the Queen.
She was just seven in 1953 when HM Elizabeth II visited Bermuda for the first time, but watching the Royal parade pass her by sparked an interest in the Windsor family that has endured to this day.
So for the 71-year-old laundry worker the upcoming Diamond Jubilee celebrations are sure to be the highlight of the year.
Ms Ratteray said: “I can remember seeing the Queen on her first trip to Bermuda as clear as day.
“I was up by the hospital watching her pass and they had brought all the hospital beds onto the roadside.
“Everyone was waving flags and cheering.
“We thought she was going to stop, but she did not for some reason and we just saw her for a few seconds.
“There was just something special about the whole experience that me and my sisters loved.
“My mother loved the Royal family and I think that must have brushed off on us.
“And I have loved them ever since.
“I call them my family!”
Ms Ratteray has visited Buckingham Palace on three separate occasions and accumulated an incredible collection of royal memorabilia from books, to stamp and coins.
And amongst her most prized possessions is video footage from the 1953 Royal visit in Bermuda.
Ms Ratteray said: “I just love them.
“Some people do not understand why I am such a Royal fanatic but it’s very important to me.
“For quite a while I had Union Jacks all around my garden until they got too dirty.
“The Jubilee Celebrations will be fantastic. I will ask my boss if I can get the whole week off.
“I would love to be in England for it but I don’t think that will happen.
“I am very much looking forward to it and will do everything I can to celebrate it in Bermuda.”
Government recently announced a series of events that have been planned for the Diamond Jubilee.
These include a flotilla of vessels sailing from Hamilton to Dockyard on June 2 and a street festival in Dockyard.
On Sunday there will be a National Worship Service at The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity as well as a picnic in the park.
On Monday Jubilee Cedars will be planted in an area, which will be called Jubilee Grove, on Coney Island.
The charity Project Action will also be holding a fundraising High Tea and ‘Best Hat’ competition at the Fairmont Hamilton on June 3 to mark the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.
Tickets can be purchased online at bdatix.bm.