Terrence Pirie grew to greatly admire Queen Elizabeth II after serving as her bodyguard during her trip to Melbourne in 1981.(ABC News: Barrie Pullen)
In 1981, Terrence Pirie was given a terrifying job.
He was to be a VIP bodyguard for the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to be held in Melbourne — but that wasn’t the problem.
When the inspector was allocating his colleagues a head of state each to guard, Mr Pirie asked who would be looking after the Queen.
“And he looks at me straight in the eye and says ‘you’,” he said. “I said, ‘What? I don’t want that job!’ “I was mildly horrified, because it’s a huge job.”
Terrence Pirie keeps this photo of him with the Queen on his nursing home wall.(ABC News)
But it was a job Mr Pirie, who grew to love the Queen and would have given up his life to protect her, took in his stride.
After the Queen’s death on Friday, the 84-year-old reflected on his time spent with the monarch.
The moment the Queen ‘won’ Mr Pirie
Mr Pirie, who was a Victoria Police sergeant at the time, was tasked with protecting the Queen wherever she went while she was in Melbourne.
“Wherever she was, so was I,” he said.
Terrence Pirie (far left) accompanied the Queen throughout the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at the Royal Exhibition Building.(Supplied: Museums Victoria)
Mr Pirie remembered visiting the Shrine of Remembrance and a group of Vietnam veterans with the Queen.
He said a man with no legs attempted to stand for her, but she said, “Please, not for me.” “That just touched me,” Mr Pirie said. “She won me — I’d be her bodyguard forever. “You could see in her face the admiration and respect for them, and the respect they had for her.”
A trip to the ballet goes awry.
Mr Pirie laughed when he remembered an amusing encounter he had while accompanying the Queen to the Australian Ballet at the Arts Centre.
He said there were camera crews all around the Queen, but one in particular annoyed him by putting a microphone “within inches of her face”.
“I thought, ‘This is not on,’ so I took a couple of steps, walked up behind him, got the lead and gave it a swift yank,” he said.
“But I probably overdid it a bit, because he staggered out — he went flying and so did his microphone.”
He said the Queen’s personal police officer later came up to him with a message from the monarch: “Your Majesty appreciates your protective gesture but tell him to not be so rough and obvious,” Mr Pirie recalled him saying.
“I said, ‘Well, she’s my sovereign, she’s my Queen,’ and I wasn’t going to have people sticking microphones under her nose.”
Mr Pirie was sad to hear of the news of the Queen’s death.
“I was never particularly a monarchist until I had that dealing with her, and she won me totally and utterly,” he said.
“She was a wonderful, sensitive, caring lady. “God bless her.”