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'We will meet again': when a monarch brings comfort with a song

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The royals aren’t partial to posh poetry – but I remember George VI, like the Queen, bringing solace with a simple line of verse

It is 1939 and I am in bed listening to the king. He seems to be reading a poem. “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year / Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” I can feel my nails dig into the palm of my hand as his voice vanishes, perhaps for ever, into some dark pit from which it emerges suddenly with a gasp. Very like my father’s car which stops and starts for no obvious reason.

“Give me a light.” The words are simplicity itself. A child can understand them and remember them. As I do.

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