A County Durham royalist has reflected on a "strange 12 months" since the death of Queen Elizabeth II - comparing the monarch's passing as "like a death in the family". 

As the one-year anniversary that the nation began mourning its longest-serving monarch is marked today (September 8), Anita Atkinson, who has been collecting royal memorabilia all her life, has reflected on the "sad" milestone, as well as highlighting how she thinks King Charles III has done in his first year. 

Mrs Atkinson, who has amassed a huge collection of items on her converted dairy farm in Weardale, County Durham – which boasts around 12,000 items in total, started collecting at a young age and now has a royal museum.

Read more: County Durham royal superfan mourns the sad death of Queen Elizabeth II 

When the Queen died in 2022 at the age of 96, the royalist admits she was "inconsolable" - and now says that it's been a "strange 12 months".

She said: "As a person, I'm pretty pragmatic and I think that while you can't dwell on it, it's been a strange time without Her Majesty. 

"With what has happened over the last 12 months, I do think to myself 'what would the Queen do in that situation?

"I've known nothing other than the Queen, so it's like losing a family member.

"It was the first Christmas where she wasn't on our telly doing her speech."

The Northern Echo: Anita AtkinsonAnita Atkinson (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

In reflecting on King Charles III and his first year on the throne, Mrs Atkinson believes that it "must be a tough job" - but is puzzled on why he hasn't yet done a Commonwealth tour since his Coronation. 

She added: "It must be a tough job for someone his age. 

"To also have a rift in the family must also be awful - having disputes with his son and the situation with his brother - it can't be easy."

The Northern Echo: The royalist with her Union Jack designThe royalist with her Union Jack design (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

To mark the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's death, the royalist had initially planned to go to events but has cancelled them to open her museum for people to come and pay their respects. 

She also believes that a fitting way of remembering the Queen would be for councils across the UK to plant a forest, given the monarch's love of conservation and the environment. 

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"She deserves to be remembered in history. I worry about the future generations not knowing who she is," Mrs Atkinson added.

"We have to keep her legacy alive by telling the future generations of the Queen's achievements - but in the right way.

"Despite her power, fame and status, she was actually a shy individual and would hate a statue - that's why I think a forest would be a better idea."