According to the Guardian Prince Andrew has been identified as the member of the royal family the Americans believe is stupid and rude. This is no shock. My grandmother, who is ill at the moment, made her only TV appearance following the Lockerbie disaster – one of my fondest memories of her.
Houses near her home were destroyed. The garden barely thirty metres away filled with bodies. Seats and more through windows at the rear. The hill at the back of the properties covered with parts – each marked. All of the gardens in the vicinity contained wreckage. Some material lay for days. Some bodies there, visible, a couple of days later from the windows in her house.
I saw her house in Time magazine pictures. Saw there what was hanging in the tree near the foot of the garden, which we couldn’t quite make out from her window. The decency requirements of the UK media prevented its publication here.
Her house was not the only one affected. But it was the only one in the immediate area with a working phone. It was the one where the boy soldiers came – the boys – little older than me – who were doing the clear up, helping remove the bits to send to the ice rink, helping to fill the park I played in every summer holiday with case after case after case, and clothes, and presents. And, they came to her house and she let them phone.
And she heard. And my sisters – present in the house – heard.
They knew what was going on.
As I did when I visited with my parents when we went to pick up my sisters.
And we remember.
And so when Prince Andrew visited Lockerbie (on behalf of the nation) and had a quick look around, his comments that “Of course it was much worse for the Americans” were greeted with contempt.
So when my granny appeared on television following the remedial visit of Prince Charles a few days later proclaiming that
“The people of Lockerbie were pleased that Prince Andrew came [beat, her comic timing honed in dance halls as interval comic entertainment was impeccable] until the moment he opened his mouth, and then he went down in everyone’s estimation.”
she spoke for a town, and for many others.
Everyone else in the house the night the plane was blown up and fell onto and destroyed the house a few doors away had problems afterwards. Some still do.
She never spoke about it.
But she was not the same person after.