A BURNSIDE man who met the Queen during her recent visit to the province has described the occasion as being the ‘best day of his life’.
Brian Higginson, a guide at the new Titanic Belfast visitor centre was selected to meet Her Majesty the Queen as she toured the new £97million building on Wednesday, June 27.
The local man was introduced to the Queen by Tim Husbands, Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast.
Brian said: “I was delighted when I was selected to talk to the Queen.
“The building has nine galleries and I met the Queen and spoke with her in the ‘Launch Gallery’ which over looks the Titanic and Olympic slipways.
“In the gallery there is a video which shows the launch of the one of the White Star Line’s ships.
“It, however, is not the Titanic, but her sister ship, the Olympic. We know this because the ship was painted white so that it would look better in the pictures. At the time they thought a black ship would not look so good against a black background.
“I told the Queen that it took 62 seconds to launch the ship from the dock into the water and then it was immediately repainted black, which surprised Her Majesty.”
The 62-year-old (pictured inset flicking through media coverage of the Queen’s visit) went on: “I was able to tell the Queen that the White Star Line never launched ships by breaking bottles against the hull, which she was quite surprised about.
“And that of the 21 ships Her Majesty the Queen launched, the first being HMS Vanguard when she was a Princess, the last ship she launched in Belfast was the first time ever a reigning monarch had launched a passenger vessel - that being the Southern Cross.
“It was usual custom that passenger liners would have been launched by dignitaries or the Presidents of companies, and the Queen was taken aback by this.”
Brian’s father Isaac, a former Navy man, served with the Duke of Edinburgh on the HMS Valiant when he was still Prince Philip of Greece.
Brian continued: “I was unable to bring this up, as protocol dictates that you only speak when spoken to. We had tried to arrange a reunion between the two, but that proved impossible given the Duke’s diary commitments.
“But meeting the Queen was the best day of my life - it was an absolute honour and an unbelievable experience.”