Vanessa Feltz
When she announced the Queen’s death to listeners on TalkTV’s drivetime show last Thursday, Ms Feltz says, there was an “audible quiver in my voice and tears were running down my face”.

It was her first week in the job. In August, she left the BBC after nearly 20 years. She told the JC she was “squaring shoulders” before the time came.

“I was aware as the show unfolded that the hour was growing ever closer and when the moment came and I was handed the fateful piece of paper, I prayed I’d be able to communicate clearly and professionally.”

In the event, the award-winning broadcaster was both professional and emotional. “It’s been reported that 50 per cent of Britons have cried at the news and I am among that 50 per cent.”

As she broadcast the news, Ms Feltz said her thoughts turned to the prayer Jews said for the Royal Family every week in synagogues across the country for the past seven decades.

“The words were throbbing in my head, and so I asked my producer to book Rabbi Alan Plancey for the show because I knew he had met the Queen on many occasions. He came on and the first thing he did was recite that prayer. It was a moment of exquisite humanity in a sea of grief.”

“The outpouring we are seeing, is heartfelt,” said Dame Maureen, who met the Queen six times.

“Just as you wish you’d done more for your late mother and been kinder to your aunt, we now look back at the photos of this once-radiant young girl who said I will devote my life to your service before she knew what those words meant, and we feel heartbroken.

“We watch the clips of her talking to people whose lives she touched, we see the empathy she showed the refugee doctor from Syria, the way she treated animals, and we realise what a prescient human being she was, how she seemed to have a sixth sense,” she told the JC.

“Those moments were the Queen being herself, an agony aunt to her people.”
The monarch’s death has also reminded us of the importance of ritual, she said. “You watch the television during these sad days and there’s a part of you that says who needs all this pomp and ceremony. But we do. It’d be a dull world without pageantry.

“And Jews understand this need better than most. Our religion is full of symbolism. We need to dip the apple in the honey, we understand the importance of those moments when we share funny terms and do funny things.”

Dame Esther Rantzen
Dame Esther first met the Queen at a BAFTA event in the 1980s and in 1991 the monarch presented the broadcasting legend with her OBE. Since then, she also met her at several charity events.

One reception, in 2012, celebrating the work of volunteers, made a particular impression. “She asked me why I was there and I said it was probably because of Childline, which is delivered by volunteers. I said: ‘You might think I’m mad but we’re thinking of setting up a similar helpline for vulnerable older people’. The Queen thought for a moment and said: ‘Well, I suppose some of the problems children have to deal with are the same ones older people face.

“And I said: yes, particularly if they are suffering abuse and neglect from people who should be caring for them. She paused and replied: ‘Well don’t think it’s mad, I think it’s rather brave.’”

Dame Esther, who set up Silver Line, a charity to support older people, the following year, felt those candid comments reflected a Queen who had become more open in her later years.

“When she first came to the throne, she was careful to follow the rules. As she got older, she revealed more of her personality. And occasionally, she also loved to shock us.

“Her brilliant acting performances with James Bond and Paddington Bear, they were a deliberate surprise.”

The Queen also liked to give us pleasure, said the celebrated campaigner. “She wasn’t like foreign dictators who have huge ceremonies in their own honour.

“When she agreed to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, it was because she wanted us to have fun after a couple of very difficult years.

“That final pic of her looking so frail as she held out a hand to the new prime minister, doing her duty, says so much.”

Rachel Riley

“It was a very proud moment,” she told the JC.

“I never met her, but I’m glad we all got to celebrate her life of service while she was still alive. Hopefully she was shown what she meant to the nation.”

Rachel Stevens
l Famed for her part in award-winning British pop group S Club 7, Ms Stevens met the late monarch at the Royal Variety Show in 2003.

Her death has left a void, she said: “What an incredible woman our Queen was. She was someone we could look up to, who led our ever-changing world with such power and grace.”

Francesca Simon
l Republicans and monarchists alike have been affected by the Queen’s death, said the American-born bestselling children’s author of the Horrid Henry series.

“We are living in turbulent times, and it feels like a point of stability has been yanked away.

“Watching the accession ceremony, with its many references to the Scottish church, and we are back in the 17th century, when the two kingdoms joined. I appreciate the history, the symbolism, and the Queen’s incredible knowledge and poise, while questioning why a democracy like the UK has a hereditary leader.

“I took British citizenship last Monday, swore an oath to the Queen and posed joyfully with my certificate in front of her picture.

“I will be one of the last people for a century to do this. Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 30 per cent of US history.Through the figure of this long-lived monarch, we touch the past and contemplate our future.”

Robert Rinder
TV personality Judge Rinder thanked the Queen for her devotion to duty.

“Through our shared grief, we remember Her Majesty’s life of service to her family, our communities, her nation and the Commonwealth.

“Her life’s devotion to thinking of the needs of others before her own is an enduring example to all of humankind and the most profound example of a mitzvah — an example to us all.”

David Baddiel

The comedian and writer, whose latest book is Jews Don’t Count, told the JC: “I met her a couple of times and she seemed very nice.”

From Jewish Chronicle

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