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WP MP He Ting Ru recalls giving flowers, curtsying to Queen Elizabeth in 1989

From left to right: A young He with Queen Elizabeth II in Singapore in 1989 and the Queen's photo, along with her husband’s, seen in Fu's office.(PHOTOS: He Ting Ru 何廷儒, Grace Fu/Facebook)
Several Singapore leaders took to social media to share their heartfelt memories of Queen Elizabeth II, who died aged 96. (PHOTOS: He Ting Ru 何廷儒, Grace Fu/Facebook)

SINGAPORE — When The Workers' Party's Sengkang MP He Ting Ru heard about the news of Queen Elizabeth II's death, she recalled fondly her encounter with the British monarch in Singapore in 1989.

He, who was six years old then, and her sister were picked up after school by their mother, who told them that they were going to see the Queen at Ang Mo Kio Town Centre.

The Queen was then in Singapore for her second state visit – she was also in the city-state in 1972 and 2006.

He posted a photo on her Facebook page of her smiling at the Queen, who was holding a bouquet of flowers. The MP said she hastily handed her the bouquet, and then "awkwardly" dipped a curtsy to welcome her to Singapore.

"She was gracious and warm to two little girls who went away with a deep impression that girls too, could be heads of state and guests of honour, and that we too could have a place amongst important men who decided big things."

He was among Singapore's politicians and leaders who took to social media to share their heartfelt memories of the beloved monarch, who died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, aged 96, on Thursday (8 September). Her death marked the end of a 70-year reign, the longest ever for a monarch in Britain, and paved the way for her eldest 73-year-old son to become King Charles III.

In a Facebook post, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu shared about a special moment that occurred during then President Tony Tan's historic state visit to the UK in 2014, ahead of the 50th anniversary of UK-Singapore relations in 2015.

Fu was part of Tan's delegation for the visit and had stayed at Buckingham Palace as the Queen's guests.

While on her way to the palace grounds for a run, Fu recounted that she saw the Queen in the hall personally checking on flower arrangements. The Queen was making sure the hall that was used for Singapore's official dinner the night before was ready in time for the next function.

"Never in my dreams would I expect a monarch to get out of bed before 8am for that. But that was QEII. Her presence, aura, and manner have stayed with me ever since," the MP for Yuhua wrote.

"And upon my return, her photo, along with her husband’s, have found a space in my office, just as she has in my heart and memory. Rest in peace," Fu added. The Queen's husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died aged 99 in April last year.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng spoke about seeing the Queen's silhouette printed on the stamps that they collected as children in their Facebook posts.

"Her passing marks the end of an era. She was a monarch much loved and respected by many in her country and beyond, said Tan, who is MP for Marine Parade GRC.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat posted a photo taken during the reception of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee at Eden Hall in Singapore in June, which he attended.

"Her Majesty will always be remembered for her grace, steadfast dedication, and lifetime of service over the past 70 years," he wrote.

State flags at all government buildings in Singapore will be flown at half-mast on the day of Queen Elizabeth's funeral as a mark of respect. Parliament will also observe one minute of silence at the beginning of its sitting on Monday.

The British High Commission will be opening a condolence book to the public from 9am to noon on 10 September as well as between 12 and 16 September.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong signed the condolence book on Friday at Eden Hall, the official residence of the British High Commissioner Kara Owen.

In a Facebook post, Lee wrote, "Her Majesty was the very heart and soul of the United Kingdom...Her Majesty also left a significant mark on Singapore’s history and our longstanding close relations with the United Kingdom. Her passing is greatly mourned by everyone in Singapore."

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