On this month 52 years ago, Queen Elizabeth II met the young Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at Buckingham Palace—one of hundreds, if not thousands, of Filipinos privileged to meet Britain’s longest-serving monarch in person across her seven decades on the United Kingdom’s throne.
Marcos Jr., then 12 years old, accompanied his mother, then-First Lady Imelda Marcos, during an audience with the Queen.
The Marcoses were in the UK for the placement of the young “Bongbong” at Worth Abbey prep school south of London.
Now the Philippines’ 17th President, Mr. Marcos may return to London soon to join world leaders in paying respects to the late majesty toward the end of the 10-day official period of mourning in the UK, although Malacanang has not expressed this possibility yet.
With Elizabeth’s passing at dawn Friday (Manila time), the President said the Queen would be remembered for exemplifying “a true monarch’s great dignity, commitment to duty, and devotion to all those in her realm.”
Over the years, the Queen has received and even awarded several Filipinos for their exemplary services to Britain, including several health workers.
In July, Queen Elizabeth presented the George Cross award to Filipina-British nurse May Parsons on behalf of the National Health Service (NHS). The award honors “acts of the greatest heroism or the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger.”
Parsons was responsible for administering the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom.
Last year, among the recipients of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire was Charito Romano, a staff nurse at the Arbrook House Care Home, for her work during the coronavirus crisis.
In 2020, Queen Elizabeth also awarded the British Empire Medal to Filipino nurse Minerva Klepacz for her “tireless work to support her colleagues and the community” amid the pandemic.
In 2018, Filipino nurse Joy Ongcachuy was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) alongside two other medical professionals and members of the MET police who immediately sprang to action in caring for the injured in the 2017 London Bridge terrorist attacks.
The Queen also awarded Rolando Quetevis, who has served as a driver for several UK envoys to the Philippines, the British Empire Medal for his 33-year service at the British Embassy in Manila.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are around 200,000 Filipinos residing in the United Kingdom, the majority of which, or an estimated 22,000, are in the healthcare industry.