It was a party fit for the Queen – and Pearl Millington’s family wouldn’t have had it any other way for the much-loved 90-year-old, who is a cheeky, full-of-life queen in her own right.
Pearl, from Southsea, recently celebrated her birthday at the Fort Cumberland Arms with family, friends and neighbours. Due to spending some time in the armed forces as a young lady, Pearl was also joined for a performance by the naval cadets, thanks to Chief Petty Officer Tony Crisp.
Pearl says: ‘I really enjoyed the party, I wore a tiara and sang my heart out on the microphone.
‘All of my children were wonderful and the naval cadets were fantastic too. I thanked them all afterwards.’
Pearl Shipton was born in Portsmouth in 1926. Her father had a pub at Church Path but, after discovering there was a land mine on it, the family moved to Andover, where Pearl joined the armed forces.
Some time later she met her husband-to-be Kenneth Millington, who was in the Royal Air Force, and married him at the Portsmouth Register Office in 1947.
‘I used to fill the American’s helmets up with beer in my dad’s pub,’ says Pearl.
‘They gave me sweets and cigarettes because we couldn’t get them ourselves.’
Pearl, who worked as a domestic supervisor at St Mary’s Hospital for 27 years, went on to have six children with her late husband Kenneth: Janet, David, Carol, Anne, Raymond and Sharon.
She is a grandmother and great-grandmother to many. Over the years swimming and walking have kept her busy, along with many different jobs and her big family.
Pearl believes helping others, being happy and being yourself is the recipe for life – that and being a little mischievous now and then.
Son David, who was a Queen’s guard, recalls the time his mother knocked on the door of a very important house.
‘In 1970 I got my parents tickets for Trooping the Colour, the Queen’s birthday parade. They came to London to watch me and my regiment, and mum had always wanted to touch my bearskin hat, but it wasn’t allowed.
‘After climbing on to one of the statues near Buckingham Palace to have a picture, she went to knock on the door of 10 Downing Street.
‘I tried to stop her, but they didn’t let her in anyway!’
Pearl also believes love and communication holds everyone together.
She says: ‘My love for my children has kept me sane. You have to keep in touch with the people you love, even your neighbours.
‘I don’t worry about age because I take each day as it comes. Life is what you make it and you should never give in, I know I don’t.’
Pearl’s daughter Anne says: ‘Mum brought up six kids and worked for many years, she’s a fantastic mother.
‘She helps anyone and everyone and she’s always there, even for people she doesn’t know.
‘She’s certainly full of life.’