Queen’s birthday: Two women with very different lives celebrate their 90th year

The Queen and Rose Gibbons at 90. Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

The Queen and Rose Gibbons at 90. Picture: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire - Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

Being born in the same year isn’t the only thing Rose Gibbons and the Queen, who turns 90 today, have in common.

The Queen and Prince Philip, left, and Rose and John. Picture: PA Wire

The Queen and Prince Philip, left, and Rose and John. Picture: PA Wire - Credit: PA

Rose, from Stratford, also married in the same year as Her Majesty – in 1947 – to a man the same age as Prince Philip.

But while the Queen enjoyed a honeymoon on the Broadlands estate in Hampshire after her wedding, things were different for Rose and her husband John, a steel erector.

“We went to Southend for the day when we got married,” said Rose. “It took us three hours to get to Shenfield and then we had to get on another train to Southend.

“We got married on the Friday and he was back to work on the Sunday, he travelled round the country for his job you see.”


You may also want to watch:


While her majesty has travelled the world in a public life devoted to royal duties, life for Rose has been more low key.

Rose was born in Martin Street, Stratford, in January 1926, where she lived with her parents Emily and Bertie and siblings. Her family ran a florist business and owned a stall on the Broadway.

Most Read

After marrying John she had a daughter, Eileen, and today is also a grandmother to Gregory who lives in Australia.

Before her marriage Rose left school at 13 and helped on the family stall. After her brother took on the running of the stall she worked in catering at Queen Mary’s and Newham General hospitals.

Visits from the Queen and Princess Diana saw her cross paths with the royal family.

“When the Queen came to visit we weren’t allowed to talk to her, she just walked past,” remembered Rose. “When Diana came she spoke to us and said it was nice to be here.

“Diana came up the stairs and said ‘it’s a long way to walk up here you must be exhausted before you start work’. She was charming and spoke to us all. She said ‘this is a nice hospital’ and I said ‘we’ve only just started’.”

Rose moved into Barchester Care Home in Forest Gate four years ago. She has never wanted to leave the area, even if things have changed considerably.

“I like the people, the people are nice,” she said. “When I worked on the stall I talked to the people and you got to know them. Stratford was like a little town then.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter