I look forward to writing this column, but as I sit here now, fresh from the sad news of Queen Elizabeth II passing away, I really don’t know what to talk about today. Let me try.

I had planned to write about something totally different. I was feeling quite jolly actually. There’s been lots of action in my business over these past few weeks and I was especially looking forward to visiting Vision Expo West in Las Vegas to meet old friends and options, which are basically the same thing in my world.

I was filming some content for social media when the news broke and we had to stop filming. How could I smile and talk about bespoke glasses on camera as events unfolded? As I drove home through central London, I attempted a palace drive by. I couldn’t even get close to it, so instead marvelled at all the digital screens I’d never noticed before, seemingly on every street, beaming photos of Her Majesty.

My staff called to tell me the flag was flying at half mast on the roof of the factory and wanted to know what messages I wanted to send on social media.

I pulled over and did a little basic social media posting, but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to post or do too much. I wanted to get the tone right and less felt like more under the circumstances.

I don’t think it’s any surprise that as a nation we feel sad about this, but I am actually surprised how sad this has made me personally. I received messages from opticians all over the world. This one from Phyllis in New York resonated with me:

‘It affected me way more than I expected it to, especially as I’m not a UK citizen. I always admired her and somehow as an American, I feel like Britain is my second home. The world lost a giant!’

When we go to trade shows overseas, I always fly the Union Jack on the stand, but they are so cheap, we can’t fly them at half mast. A quick search on Amazon for a flag of more appropriate quality and the problem was solved. What about our website? ‘Shall we put up a message,’ I was asked. I don’t know, I replied, I don’t want to look like we are exploiting the event to make ourselves look good.

Meetings were cancelled. The gentleman who cancelled the first one is a bell ringer and was on duty at his local church.

‘Shall we close our shops?’ I was asked by a staff member. My immediate thought was: ‘The Queen wouldn’t want that.’ Keep calm and carry on.

For most of us, Queen Elizabeth II was the only British monarch we’ve even known. I think her death leaves the world with a sense of loss. I can say this because other than American opticians, Germans, Dutch, Malaysian, Canadian and even French opticians have told me so. I was touched quite frankly.

I’ve never met the Queen. I’ve stood on the Mall before and waved at her. I always hoped that one day, I’d be making her glasses. I knew exactly what I’d make for her. I spent many a good hour plotting ways I could make it happen. Instead of taking action though, I sat back and waited for the call and it never came.

I once made glasses for a queen from another country (I won’t be naming her in print, but you can ask me if I see you) and I was wrestled to the ground by her bodyguard as I tried to take measurements around her ears with my fitting templates. That was 10 years ago.

I don’t think I’d have tried to bend our Queen’s ear, however. I probably wouldn’t have been able to speak coherently in front of her, let alone go through my usual bespoke performance.

About 12 years ago, I put out a Photoshopped image of me with the Queen, with my arm around her shoulder and holding some callipers in my other hand. Just like I would with any famous person for my social media. ‘How dare you touch the Queen’, the comments raged, as well as ‘I have no respect for you, you’ve faked that’ in the comments box. The picture went out on April fool’s day, but the problem with images like this is that they don’t disappear on April 2.

I’ve sung ‘God Save The Queen’ at sporting events and it stirred my heart. When I fly the flag in my factory and around the world, it’s because I’m proud of being British.

I suppose it only remains to say, God save the King.