The King and I

Exactly 50 years ago this year, the Duchess of Kent opened the North Yorkshire Moors Railway…

…which is one of the companies where I act as Finance Director. (And also one of my passions.)

So last year, the railway put in a request to see whether the Duchess would come back, to mark its golden anniversary.

We didn’t hear back, but about three months ago, we received a cryptic message…

The royal train would be pulling into Pickering station (the southern terminus of the railway), hauled by the Flying Scotsman – one of the most famous locomotives in the world, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

When we asked why, there was no answer…

…Until a couple of months ago, when the Lord Lieutenant told our CEO that the King himself would be on the train.

Needless to say, we were all tremendously excited about a royal visit and a lot of hard working people sprung into action to put the arrangements in place. It was all very hush-hush, because if word got out, he wouldn’t be able to come.

Nevertheless, when King Charles arrived two weeks ago, there was a huge number of people on hand to receive him. I guess a secret that big is impossible to keep for too long!

I was part of the welcoming party at the station, and got a “hello” although I didn’t have a chance to reply.

The King unveiled a plaque and did a walkaround. Everyone was staggered at how well-briefed he was and how much he knew about the railway and the people. He was extremely relaxed and engaged in easy conversation.

There were several displays of his legendary sense of humour. He absolutely loved it when he was introduced to John Bruce, a long standing volunteer and Trustee, who’s been part of the railway for so long that it was suggested he helped George Stephenson build it in 1832…


All in all, it was a marvellous day which also generated extraordinary publicity for my beloved railway – the kind of PR money can’t buy. Perhaps you even saw the reports on the news – or on my LinkedIn feed. (If we’re not connected already, please reach out!)

So what’s the financial management lesson here? For once, there isn’t one… I just thought you might enjoy this peek behind the scenes at my brush with royalty.

Clearly, being a finance director is occasionally more glamourous than one might think 😉



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