OPINION: Working with The Queen, I marvelled at a Monarch who was the same off camera as she was on

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: Working with The Queen, I marvelled at a Monarch who was the same off camera as she was on

Former Buckingham Palace aide Zaki Cooper saw up close the love and admiration Her Majesty attracted while working on the Diamond Jubilee

The Queen (Blake Ezra Photography)
The Queen (Blake Ezra Photography)

When a friend sent me a message 10 days ago, and asked me to recite the Prayer for the Royal Family at his son’s upcoming Bar Mitzvah last Shabbat, I accepted swiftly but did not dwell on it for long. Little did I know that it would be the final time we would recite the Prayer for the Monarch, “Our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth.” Those words, which have become so familiar, after reciting them a total of 3670 times on Shabbats during the 70 year reign, will not be said again in that form.

The other thing about last Shabbat, the final one of the Queen’s life as it transpired, was that the Torah portion, Shoftim, contained a crucial passage about monarchy. In one of his closing addresses, Moses instructs the people to appoint a King when they are wandering in the wilderness. But there is a famous cautionary note that the monarch must not have too many horses, too many wives or too much money. It is a classic warning about the excesses of monarchy, and the importance of curbs on the sovereign’s power. Queen Elizabeth was an exemplar for understanding the parameters of her role, and where it started and finished, though ironically if she had one indulgence, it was for horses!

Her loss is a massive one for the country and the wider Commonwealth, which she headed. As a familiar and reassuring presence for over 70 years, she was the mother and grandmother of the nation. In those seven decades, she carried out over 21,000 public engagements. Anyone who has met her will remember it for the rest of their lives. Over the past few years, I have got to know a fantastic elderly lady who worked in New York in the 1970s at the British consulate and proudly showed me photos of her meeting the Queen on board Britannia. As for many others, meeting the Queen was a lifelong highlight.

Zaki Cooper

The Queen has of course carried out events with the Jewish community from the centenary of the United Synagogue in 1970 to the 350th anniversary of British Jewry in 2006. She has enjoyed a particularly special relationship with the charity, Norwood, as its patron, as well as the Council of Christians and Jews. This was part of the tapestry of charity work she carried out, at one point having an association with 700 charities.

Working at the Palace on the strategic communications of the Diamond Jubilee from 2009 allowed me to observe her closely. There were no big surprises. She was in person as she appears on camera. Over seven decades, the British and wider public came to appreciate her for her wisdom, her calm and her durability. It was an education to watch her in action on a Royal walkabout, at an investiture dispensing honours or hosting a foreign leader on a State Visit. She always had respect for the occasion she was attending and for the people she was meeting. By behaving in this way, the respect and admiration people had for her grew and snowballed. In an age where so many countries are led by narcissists, tyrants and despots, her “servant leadership” was authentic and inspiring.

My spell of Royal service provided me with many privileged experiences and memories. We travelled the country and carried out a lot of fascinating engagements, which gave a taste of the Queen’s everyday work. To pick out a few examples, these included a visit to the Wimbledon tennis Championships, opening a new High Court building with judges and a visit to the Tiptree jam factory in Essex. In my spell at the Palace, it waas immediately clear how reliant she was on Prince Philip and how they operated as a team. She provided the decorum and dignity, and he lightened the mood with a joke or a teasing quip. His death last year was obviously a terrible blow, but she soldiered on, reaching her Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

In central London for Jubilee weekend, I felt the enormous goodwill and affection for the Queen from the crowds gathered at various events. But there was also a realisation that the reign was drawing towards it’s close. We are all Elizabethans and it’s been our immense good fortune to have her as our monarch.

  • Zaki Cooper was Assistant Press Secretary to the Queen from 2009 to 2012.
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: