‘A touching moment after so much loss,’ Miami woman recalls meeting with Queen

SOUTH MIAMI – A South Florida woman reflects on her time with Queen Elizabeth II during the most difficult time of her life.

Victoria Cummock was 35 and had three young children when she lost her husband, John Cummock.

John was on Pan Am Flight 103 flying from London to the United States in 1988 when a bomb exploded on board and the plane exploded in midair. Two hundred and fifty-nine people on the plane died, 11 were killed on the ground. The wreckage was spread over 845 miles.

“He was a kind-hearted, very bright, very committed man. He loved his family. He loved his children. He was also very curious,” Victoria said of her late husband.

In 1988, there was no protocol requiring government officials to contact the families of victims. Victoria struggled to find information about her husband’s death while trying to mourn the massive loss of her family.

Less than four years later, the family was struck by another devastating blow. Hurricane Andrew swept through South Florida and flooded their Cocoplum neighborhood. Victoria and her three little ones moved into an RV in her front yard.

“I kept looking up at the sky and telling John I needed you here,” Victoria said.

The family had no telephones or mailboxes, but worked to finally put their house and their lives back together. Just as things were starting to get back to normal, Victoria received an unexpected call.

“They wanted to know if I would be attending the Royal Wreath Laying Ceremony which I had been invited to by the Queen,” Victoria said.

Victoria was exhausted but took her family and flew to Lockerbie, Scotland, where the plane crashed. There the family met Queen Elizabeth.

“She came up to me and said you knew I understood you were from Miami and I said yes,” Victoria said.

Victoria says she asked him about the hurricane and two of his favorite spots in South Florida; Fairchild and Vizcaya Tropical Botanical Garden.

“She listened so carefully, then she asked my kids questions, and then she came back to me,” Victoria said.

Victoria says it was a touching moment after so much loss. A moment she says stays with her all these years later.

“She didn’t necessarily respond as her duty and as her role. She responded as a human being. She responded as a mother, grandmother and wife,” Victoria said.

The human exchange between a queen and a grieving widow is a lifelong reminder to Victoria of her mother’s kindness.

“He was just very committed to life, to his family and to his community,” Victoria said.

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