Ripley native reflects on meeting Queen Elizabeth II
RIPLEY • During her 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II met countless people — world leaders, movie stars, all four members of The Beatles and, on one occasion, a longtime Boy Scout from Ripley, Mississippi.
Marshall Hollis of Ripley has dedicated much of his life to Scouting; his longtime loyalty to the organization has even earned him one of Boys Scouts of America's highest honors: the Silver Buffalo.
Yet that prestigious award isn't the only eminent experience Marshall had through his Scouting efforts. In 1997, shortly after the death of Princess Diana, Hollis had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth II, who died earlier this month at 96 and will be buried at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on Monday.
In the wake of Diana’s death, Hollis said, the mood in the U.K. was both sorrowful and angry.
"A lot of people in the U.K. were not happy with the royal family,” Holland said. “So, they decided to do a big gathering of Boy Scout dignitaries from all around the world.”
The royal encounter included an extravagant dinner in London with Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the Mayor of London attending as guests of honor.
More than just a quick meet-and-greet, Hollis said the event allowed the Scouting dignitaries to actually spend a bit of time speaking with the queen.
“She was a really, really nice lady," Hollis said. "She took time to meet and greet everybody in that room. That was impressive.”
‘Quite an honor’
Hollis traveled to London to represent the United States for the Baden-Powell Fellowship, which raises money for Scouting programs all over the world.
Scouting has a presence in 172 countries, but many of those nations don't have the resources to fully support their programs.
Hollis explained that the World Scout Foundation provides additional funding for programs around the globe for whatever they need at the time. That usually includes handbooks, T-shirts or uniforms.
According to Hollis, the British royal family has been involved with Scouting since 1937, when then Princess Elizabeth became a Guide and her little sister Princess Margaret became a Brownie. Currently, Prince William's wife, Kate, serves as the spokesperson for the U.K.'s Scouting initiatives.
For the Ripley native, his work with Scouting and the Boys Scouts of America have been a labor of love and lifelong commitment. Hollis has been a Scout for 60 years, and he currently serves on the committee for the Boy Scouts of America and the World Scout Foundation.
Though he’s had countless unforgettable experiences during his six decades with the Scouts, Hollis said few can compare to the time he met the queen.
"It was quite an honor to get to meet Queen Elizabeth and to kind of get to know her in the little time we had," he said.
In the days after the queen's death, much of the world has vocalized messages of grief following her passing and support of the royal family, but others have articulated their disapproval of the British monarchy.
To Hollis, however, his royal encounter 25 years ago solidified his love for Queen Elizabeth II and her integral part in history.
"She was the whole world's queen,” he said.
BROOKE BULLOCK BURLESON a digital producer for the Daily Journal. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.