SOUTH MIAMI – A South Florida woman is reflecting on her time with Queen Elizabeth II during the hardest period of her life.
Victoria Cummock was 35 years old with three young children when she lost her husband, John Cummock.
John was on Pan Am Flight 103 flying from London to the U.S. in 1988 when a bomb detonated on board and the plane exploded mid-air. Two-hundred fifty-nine people on the plane died, 11 were killed on the ground. The wreckage was spread over 845 miles.
“He was a kindhearted very bright, very committed man. He loved his family. He loved his children. He was also very curious,” said Victoria of her late husband.
In 1988 there were no protocols that required government officials to contact victims’ families. Victoria struggled to find information about her husband’s death all while trying to mourn the massive loss to her family.
Less than four years later, the family was hit with 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 up at the sky and saying John I need you here,” said Victoria.
The family had no phone and no mailbox but were working to finally put their home and lives back together. When things were starting to get in order, Victoria got an unexpected call.
“They wanted to know if I would be attending the royal wreath-laying ceremony that I’d been invited to by the queen,” said Victoria.
Victoria was exhausted but took her family and flew to Lockerbie, Scotland, where the plane went down. There, the family met Queen Elizabeth.
“She came to me and said you know I understand that you’re from Miami and I said yes,” said Victoria.
Victoria says she asked her about the hurricane and about two of her favorite local South Florida spots; Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and Vizcaya.
“She listened so intently and then she asked my children questions and then she came back to me,” said Victoria.
Victoria says it was a touching moment after so much loss. A moment she says sticks 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, as a grandmother, and a wife,” said Victoria.
The human exchange between a queen and a mourning widow is a lifelong reminder for Victoria of her mother’s kindness.
“He was just very committed to life, to his family and to his community,” said Victoria.