Royal protocol dictates that the queen is to be addressed in a certain manner, especially by those outside the royal family, but there was one person who was given permission to refer to the monarch by her first name.
The Daily Express spoke with royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams, who explained that it’s rare for someone who encounters Queen Elizabeth in her public life to have permission to call her by her first name. Fitzwilliams reveals that the one man who was allowed to call her “Elizabeth” was someone who she admired greatly, and that was Nelson Mandela.
“He called her Elizabeth and his affection for her was warmly reciprocated. Her state visit to South Africa in 1995 when he was President was one of the highlights of her reign.”
The relationship between the queen and Madiba — as he was called — was considered unusual and extraordinary according to Zelda la Grange, personal assistant to Mr. Mandela, who explains that she was “struck by the warm friendship between Madiba and the queen.”
“‘Oh Elizabeth,’ he would say when he greeted her, and she would respond: ”Hello, Nelson.’ I think he was one of the very few people who called her by her first name and she seemed to be amused by it.”
— The Royal UK (@TheRoyalUK1) July 18, 2018
Queen Elizabeth and Mr. Mandela were familiar enough that on a visit to England, the South African leader remarked to the monarch, “Oh, Elizabeth, you’ve lost weight.”
In 1996, Queen Elizabeth hosted a party at Albert Hall for Mandela, and the two danced, smiling and enjoying the evening.
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku says that the first meeting between the queen and Mandela was special, in that an exception was made for the South African leader to attend the queen’s banquet, says Royal Central.
When Mandela spoke in speeches about Queen Elizabeth, he referred to her as “this gracious lady,” and in turn, the monarch referred to him as “this wonderful man.”
Throughout their relationship, Mandela referred to the queen as “my dear friend Elizabeth.” Protocol was cast aside, as it was said to be a friendship based on mutual respect.
An official recalled one of the more amusing meetings between the two — the queen and the South African leader were sitting together at Albert Hall at his party. Phil Collins was performing for the crowd, and people were dancing and enjoying themselves when Queen Elizabeth and Mr. Mandela stood up and started dancing.