Former BBC Royal correspondent Jennie Bond, who lives in the South Hams, says Queen Elizabeth II was an enigma who will be remembered as one of the greatest monarchs of all time.

And she has spoken of her personal sadness, after more than 30 years of reporting – including travelling with the Queen on her first official visit to Russia in 1994 and when she met South African president Nelson Mandela.

Bond, who lives at East Prawle, said the Queen was “someone who was this calm presence in the fabric of our national life.”

Talking to BBC Spotlight, Jennie said: “It was absolutely shown in the Pandemic when we were all locked in our homes and here was this gracious lady on our TV screens who just said ‘this will pass, we will meet again’.

“It was just so reassuring.”

Jennie Bond wrote a book in 2001 called Reporting Royalty, which describes her time on the road with the Queen.

Royal reporter Jennie Bond, who lives in Devon (BBC screenshot)

And she admitted to the BBC she would try to make Her Majesty laugh by telling her jokes and stories.

“I met her many times, but one of her great achievements was that she remained an enigma. She just kept her views to herself. She was neutral.

“I tried to make her laugh and lighten the mood and tell her stories, and she was absolutely charming.”

Jennie said like so many she had found the last week “incredibly sad.”

“That moment, as with Diana when you see the coffin, reality hits home that the person who for me was a very large part of my professional life and who I did know a little bit…. It’s just incredible sadness, and gratitude for the stability, the continuity, the dignity, and the grace she showed us for 70 years,” she said.