Samantha Cohen first saw the queen as a schoolgirl in Brisbane. She served the monarch for 17 years.

Samantha Cohen was in high school when she first laid eyes on the Queen.  

It was 1977 and the monarch was touring Australia to mark her Silver Jubilee.

Standing outside her Brisbane high school, a young Samantha watched on as she waved a flag stuck to her ruler. 

"I remember thinking what an extraordinary woman," she told ABC's 7.30 Report on Tuesday night.

Over four decades on, she would have never imagined she would have worked for the Queen, becoming one of her most trusted aids during her 17 years with the royal family. 

Watch: Samantha Cohen speaks about her time with the Queen on ABC's 7.30 Report.

Video via ABC.

For Samantha, it all began when she answered a newspaper ad for a "media minder" during a trip to London, the Daily Mail reports. 

A long way from sunny Brisbane, she joined the Buckingham Palace press office in 2001. From there, she worked her way up the ranks, landing the role of deputy press secretary in 2003 before eventually becoming the Queen's assistant private secretary.

"They really like Australians here," Samantha told The Age in 2004, as per the Daily Mail. 

"We bring something to the job they quite like - enthusiasm, a can-do attitude."


During her career, Samantha was named Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and was able to return to Australia with the Queen three times. 

"She absolutely loved Australia," Samantha told 7.30. "I think she loved Australians because they were so direct and funny and they treated her with great respect, but not in a sycophantic way."

As the years went on - Samantha who reportedly earned herself the nickname "The Panther " because of her "fierce" attitude - was entrusted with helping Meghan Markle prepare for life as a new royal. 

Samantha Cohen with Meghan Markle and the Queen at a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018. Image: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty. 


According to The Sun, the mother-of-three played a key role in helping Meghan prepare for her first appearance as the Duchess of Sussex at the now-King Charles's 70th birthday party.

However, after almost two decades rubbing shoulders with royalty, Samantha resigned from the palace in 2019 to work for the non-profit group, Cool Earth.

What the Queen was really like behind-the-scenes. 

During her time working at the palace, Samantha was able to witness a rare side to the Queen the world doesn't usually get to see. 

Speaking to 7:30, Samantha explained behind all the regalia and royal tours, Elizabeth II, was a "very sweet and shy and humble person with a great sense of humour". 

"She also had a great sense of the ridiculous so if something happened on an engagement, if you know something got stuck to someone, a speech note or if something fell over, she would see that the whole thing was quite silly and ridiculous and she loved that."

Samantha also said the Queen's days were filled with not-so-glamours moments that didn't make the camera.

"What people didn't see was the work she put in, day in, day out in the freezing winters in the United Kingdom, where she would get on a train, an ordinary train. Travel to somewhere quite remote, visit ordinary people in hospices, in schools. It wasn't glamorous, it was long days."

"So it was a difficult job but every single day she put on a smile late into her 80s and she served people and that's what made her so special."

Samantha was also one of hundreds of staff members who received a special gift from the Queen every year at Christmas. 


"The Queen loved Christmas and... she would make sure that everybody had a Christmas pudding and every year they would also create a special gift that she would then stand up and hand to every member of staff with Prince Philip."

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After years of working with the Queen and calling her a friend, Samantha received the devastating news of the Queen's death last week. 

At the time, the mother-of-three was in Rome when her phone rang. 

"I had a phone call, someone said, 'She's gone.'"

"And I think the poignant moment for me was that Rome was the last place I had been with her on her last overseas visit."

Reflecting on her time with the Queen, Samantha said she's learnt a lot from the 96-year-old, who she came to know as an "emotional anchor". 

"She taught me that you have to be true to your values and you have to be true to yourself. And she had many times in her life where she wasn't necessarily popular. When life was difficult, when she had many issues that she had to deal with both with her family or global issues, and she just kept going."

"She was such an emotional anchor because her value system was so clear that you felt very sure of the world when she was in it and I think that she was just there for so long that we don't know a world without her in it really."

Feature Image: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty/ABC. 

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