KOTA KINABALU: Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral has brought back memories for former Likas Vocational College student Syed Husin Habib Omar, who remembered feeling nervous about speaking English during a visit by the British royals in 1972.

Students of the then Likas Vocational Secondary School, said Husin, were told about the visit over a month before, and were required to go for rehearsals on how to act and what to say – and what not to say – in the presence of the British royal family.

“I was selected to stand at one of the checkpoints where the royal family would walk by.

“So, I was one of those allowed to speak to them when asked questions, and I was afraid of making mistakes, saying the wrong things, or speaking bad English,” he said, adding that the days leading up to the visit were full of suspense and nervousness for him.

Luckily for Husin, his brief conversation with Princess Anne, who accompanied her mother, the Queen, and her father, the late Prince Philip, went smoothly.

The 70-year-old said he was in his late teens during the visit and was a second-year student studying motor mechanics.

“The queen was always smiling. She arrived at the school with Prince Philip and her daughter.

“The princess was so beautiful. I remember her more because she asked me my name, my course, and some other questions when visiting our dormitory,” he said.

Husin said he was especially in awe of their different culture and even how they dressed and looked.

Syed Husin Habib Omar.Syed Husin Habib Omar.

After the visit, life went on as usual for him and the memories of that day were buried until recently when news of the Queen’s passing broke and her subsequent funeral on Monday.

“It was then that those memories of the royal visit came flooding back. I felt somewhat sad that she had passed,” he said.

The Likas Vocational College has dedicated a small gallery in the school in remembrance of the visit.

Its director, Mokhtar Ibrahim, said the gallery displayed pictures of the visit as well as a guest book signed by the royals.