During her lifetime, the queen made five visits to the Commonwealth (1984, 1986, 1989, 1991, and 2007).
One of the people who the queen had a direct contact with here in the Bluegrass is retired U.S. Secret Service Agent Jim Helminski, who protected the queen while working in Lexington when she came in 1984 and 1986.
Being so new to the job with the Secret Service, according to Helminski, protecting the queen was an interesting challenge.
“Well you know it is one of your very first protectees, it is something that you begin to think about,” Helminski said. “You think about what you learn from that. You learn how to deal with people at that level and having the queen break you in is a pretty interesting thing to say.”
Outside of prominent public figures, Helminski got unprecedented personal time with her royal highness.
“What I ended up doing was driving her from place to place so I had some alone time with the queen, some very nice conversations with her,” Helminski explained. “Went to each and every one of the venues that she went at so I got to watch her interact with us, common people.”
When it came to the queen’s sense of humor, Helminski certainly had fond memories.
“She had a very queenly British sense of humor,” said Helminski. “I can recall driving down one of our Kentucky country roads and going past a group of bikers and all she could say was ‘that seems way too sweaty for me.'”
In Helminski’s eyes, the queen fit in like a true Kentuckian with her knowledge of horses.
“But when it came to her horses, this woman was all business. I can remember Will Farish and her discussing the new purchase of horses. She knew her horse confirmation, she knew what to look for. When it came to the equine business of horses, this was not a woman to mess with.”