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News > Life After Hymers > Platinum Jubilee Stories: John Kittmer, HMA to Greece

Platinum Jubilee Stories: John Kittmer, HMA to Greece

John Kittmer (OH 1978-85) provided an Address to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen's 90th birthday
John Kittmer, OH 1978-85
John Kittmer, OH 1978-85

John Kittmer studied in the Senior School from 1978 to 1985, where he was taught Latin for three years and Ancient Greek by Mr Larry Trewartha, who read ancient Greek texts with him in the sixth form when he was the only pupil in his year studying ancient Greek A level.  He then attended Christ's College at the University of Cambridge,where he obtained a BA in Classics (1988), King's College London where he received an MA in Greek Studies, and Magdalen College at the University of Oxford, at which he also studied Classics.

He served as Her Majesty’s Ambassador (HMA) to Greece from January 2013 until December 2016.  During his last year in 2016, he provided the Address at a service at St Paul's Anglican Church in Athens to commemorate Her Majesty The Queen's 90th Birthday which mentions his meeting with her.

As a boy I was brought up in a small, rural Yorkshire village, and I was reflecting on that on the day I went to kiss Her Majesty’s hands at Buckingham Palace. It was an amazing experience. We were driven by limousine into the palace’s inner courtyard, past the crowds who were gathering for a separate investiture ceremony, being conducted by Prince William. And we were greeted by an equerry, who moved us from waiting-room to waiting-room, briefing us about the correct protocol, until finally we knew we were close to Her Majesty because one of us tripped up over one of Her Majesty's corgis.

We are not supposed to reveal the details of our conversations with The Queen and I don’t propose to break that laudable convention. But I will say this: that I was enormously taken by her presence – not in the sense that I was meeting someone grand and majestic, though I was, but in the sense that throughout the audience she was intensely present to me and my three colleagues, as she talked to us each in turn. She had done this hundreds of times before. But she was interested in us, well briefed about us, and attentive to us. She made us feel at the centre of her life that day. It was an enormously generous lesson in the difficult art of being immediately accessible, immediately present to a complete stranger. It’s a rare skill to have, and one which, in part, explains The Queen’s great popularity.

If you would like to read John's speech in full, please visit www.gov.uk/government/speeches/her-majesty-the-queens-90th-birthday

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