Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen, who has had a long career at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has a rare photograph at home.
At the bottom are the signatures of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.
The 85-year-old diplomat received a photograph from the British Royal in 1976 when they visited Finland.
Mäkeläinen, who worked as an assistant protocol manager at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, belonged to their party.
- It has been on display in my home ever since, says Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen.
- It’s a big beautiful picture where both are in festive outfits.
Their signature is below the picture and reads Elizabeth R and Philip 1976.
-It's a big beautiful picture, where both are in festive outfits.
Their signature is below the picture, and it reads Elisabet R and Philip 1976, says Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen. Photo: Lassi Rinne
At that time, the time of President Urho Kekkonen was lived.
It was the first full state visit to Finland.
The British delegation had already visited in advance to map out a future state visit.
- It has been the custom in Finland to make state visits to the nearest millimeter.
We have a very good reputation, Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen says.
When Mäkeläinen heard on Friday from the French news that Prince Philip had passed away, memories surfaced.
- I must say that at the top of their visit it was remembered that they were precisely the couple, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
How much value Elizabeth gave her husband that this supported her work.
- The visit has left a very warm and deep impression on me.
-My visit has left a very warm and deep impression on me, diplomat Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen recalls her meeting with the British royals.Photo: Kari Santala
President Kekkonen had sent a small party to Åland to receive the royal couple arriving by private plane.
Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen was honored to be among those invited.
- Philip was very interested in the Åland Maritime Museum, he says.
Mäkeläinen chatted with both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
- Of course we didn't talk for long.
They made a natural and human-like impression.
The royals became acquainted with Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen's long career as a diplomat.
The photographs at home in Espoo are reminiscent of encounters with the royals
The next day, the royals charmed the Finns in the South Harbor of Helsinki.
There was a huge crowd.
Shots of honor were shot.
- It was a huge case.
The evening was a big celebration, Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen recalls.
President Urho Kekkonen invited a small party to Åland to receive Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1976. Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen was honored to be present. Photo: Timo Hämäläinen / Lehtikuva
Mäkeläinen was the protocol manager of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs until 1980.
He then served as Ambassador to Athens from 1980 to 1985, to Copenhagen from 1985 to 1990, to Vienna and at the same time to Ljubljana from 1995 to 1998.
Eva-Christina Mäkeläinen is a licentiate in social sciences and a doctor of philosophy.