Lord lieutenant of Co Antrim '˜humbled' by Queen's personal honour
A mother of three from Northern Ireland has been given a personal honour by the Queen to recognise her distinguished service to the Royal Family.
Joan Christie, who has been lord lieutenant of Co Antrim since 2008, has welcomed international visitors including Presidents Obama and Putin to the Province as well as members of the Royal Family including Princes William and Harry.
In 2016 she welcomed the Queen herself to her home town of Bushmills.
Mrs Christie, who also has an MBE and an OBE, received the Commander of the Victorian Order (CVO) in the most recent New Year Honours.
Her name did not appear in the local honours list as the CVO is a private honour distributed by the Queen, however, she was listed in the London Times which carries the complete list of recipients.
“I’m delighted and very humbled by it,” said Mrs Christie.
“A lord lieutenant is Her Majesty’s representative in the county. The prime role would be when a member of the Royal Family comes to Co Antrim I would go along and meet them and accompany them during their visit.
“Over and above that you look through your county for people worthy of recognition through the awards system. There are so many people volunteering in our society who are deserving of recognition.”
The most recent member of the Royal Family Mrs Christie accompanied in Co Antrim was Prince Harry on his visit to Ballymena in September to open the town’s new £5m ambulance station.
She said: “I’m always very conscious that the Royal visitors are here to visit the people of Northern Ireland, they’re not here to see me. If they’re going to a factory for example they’re here to meet the people who work there, they’re the most important people.
“When Prince Harry came it was such a joy to see the lovely repartee that went on between him and members of the ambulance service who work on the ground.”
Mrs Christie said she has met the Queen on a few occasions: “Most recently I accompanied her around Bushmills and the Causeway.”
Mrs Christie is due to finish her role as lord lieutenant in June 2019 when she will be 75.
“I’ve had the most amazing nine years. I’m looking forward to the final year and a half.
“Co Antrim is a great county to be the lord lieutenant of – you get so many opportunities with the international airport falling in this area. For example at the G8 conference I got to meet and greet President Obama, President Hollande and President Putin.”
Mrs Christie’s husband Dan died in 2008, three months after she was appointed lord lieutenant.
“It was good to have the role to focus on at that time,” said the mother-of-three who was awarded freedom of the borough for Mid and East Antrim Council last year.
Mrs Christie was born in Castlederg before moving to Ballybogey in the 1970s. She now lives in Bushmills.
In 1976 she received an MBE for service to the government and in 2005 she received a further honour – an OBE – for services to education.
She has three children – Joanna, 38, Harriett, 36 and Marcus, 33 – and five grandchildren.
Her son Marcus said: “My sisters and I are immensely proud of mum and what she continues to achieve. Even though she puts the three of us to shame with her energy.”