Royalty and statesmen

The Queen shares a conversation with the New Zealand mountaineer's widow, Lady June
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With Sherpa Tenzing at his side, in 1953 Edmund Hillary became the first person to scale Mount Everest
Photo: PA Photos

Queen hosts memorial service for Everest conqueror Edmund

3 APRIL 2008
The Queen paid her respects to legendary mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary on Wednesday as she hosted a memorial service in his honour.

The New Zealand born mountaineer, who died of a heart attack in January aged 88, climbed Everest in May 1953. And the monarch, who at the service chatted to his widow Lady June, was informed of his feat on the day of her coronation.

Speaking at the service in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, Sir Edmund's 54-year-old son Peter said it was a "wonderful coincidence" that word of his father's success arrived in London the day it did.

"For my father, his association with the royal family was something that gave him great pleasure and honour. He was very grateful for that friendship," he remembered.

Also at the service was Norbu Tenzing, the son of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay - the Nepalese/Tibetan climber who reached the peak alongside Sir Edmund.

New Zealand premier Helen Clark, who was also among the invitees, expressed her gratitude to the Queen for the "special day of remembrance".