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Join The Queue

Sep 18, 2022 | The Grand Adventure | 14 comments

By now, the news of the Queen’s death will have reached every last corner of the world. There may be a village of pygmies in the Congo Basin who don’t know –  and there are likely to be many republicans who don’t care. But overall, it’s a moment in history we will all remember.

And I will always remember it differently because I am here.

We were in France when the news broke. The Parisians saw it as a reason to open another bottle of wine (“We will drink a toast to your Queen“, one waiter shouted to me, as an incentive for us to choose his restaurant for dinner).

The next day, back in London, the ocean of flowers had started gathering at Buckingham Palace, Union Jacks flew at half mast, and the eery silence of empty streets greeted us as we got a cab from the station. It was as though COVID had come back to haunt us. Where was everyone?

I have found it hard to read the news reports, and next to impossible to watch the endless TV coverage in the week since without welling up. The grief is palpable and contagious.

It’s also very British.

I expected the pomp and ceremony, the pronouncements of accession, God Save The King, and the official period of mourning.

What I didn’t expect was the genuine sorrow of the British people. I didn’t expect them to come in their hundreds of thousands, to queue for hours (even days, and increasingly colder nights), to keep queuing even when they were told not to, and to ignore the signs and announcements that it was too late for them to get into Westminster Hall to pay their respects.

They just kept coming. 

The British know how to queue and they know how to say thank you.

Tomorrow the world will witness her funeral. The great majority of us will watch it on TV, while 2,000 world leaders and other invited elite will file into Westminster Abbey for front row seats.  

But for me, the most poignant moments have already been and gone.  Well over one million ordinary people will have filed past her coffin in the last four days, each one of them demonstrating the highest level of respect, gratitude and love for this remarkable woman. (To put it in perspective, when Winston Churchill and the Queen’s father, King George VI, died, they attracted just over 300,000 people each during their lying in state period.)

So, for anyone who thinks the Queen did a pretty splendid job in the face of every imaginable hurdle, tragedy and personal sacrifice for over seventy years – join the queue. 

It’s the way we do it in England.

 

14 Comments

  1. Jack Willmott

    We are welling up too, the tv coverage is amazing and Australians are, in the majority, so very moved by her magnificent reign, and her ability to unite not divide. We met her in 1963 when Jack’s father was in Parliament, at a garden party in Perth. Mum was a huge fan, and her father a Grenadier Guard ( apart from his military history in the Royal West Kent Regiment) Your Paris experience very interesting, good to hear they were empathetic. We leave for WA on 29th, weather is absolutely glorious. Our friends in Dunsborough walking around houses wrapped in blankets!!!! Freezing. Love Bev Jack

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      I think most people around the world respect what she did for the Commonwealth. If I was a republican, I would keep very quiet today. Glad to hear FNQ has treated you to some lovely weather. We are on the cusp of Autumn and I have pulled out a jumper for the first time this week. Brrrr!

      Reply
  2. Sue mudge

    An amazing reign indeed Mel and a memorable occasion to witness from near and far.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Yes, we’ll all remember this moment

      Reply
  3. James Cullen

    I’m with you Mel. God save the Queen.
    Good luck Charles 111.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Interesting times.

      Reply
  4. Patrick Bollen

    I shed many tears at the passing of Elizabeth Regina. The out pouring of grief across the UK was as it was going to be. She has been a constant, a rock. She was like a family matriarch to so many of us.. I will be like so many millions around the world, someone who will never forget this remarkable woman.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Family matriarch is a good description for her.

      Reply
  5. Mike Mabbutt

    Wonderful Mel. That’s all that needs to be said. My brothers live near Windsor so they’re going to walk down to the ‘long walk’ stretch to watch the cortège as it approaches the castle and video it live for me….somehow it brings you closer to the moment in history that feels so poignant, glad you and Russ are there to experience it, you’ll never complain again if you have to join a queue 😂x

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      I think the streets will be packed today. Good to hear you’ll be there in spirit with your brothers.

      Reply
  6. Petrina

    Here here Mel.

    All your sentiments expressed are so beautifully expressed and equals so many of our feelings.

    In a few hours time Her Majesty as we knew her, will be finally laid to rest. The vast majority will be moved by this historic event of her funeral.

    Along with you and Russell and possibly millions and millions of others world wide, tears will be definitely shed here too.

    So happy you made the pilgrimage, honoured our Queen and gave Her a last goodbye. Xx

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      We’ll be thinking of all our friends in Australia today as we watch the funeral (on TV)

      Reply
  7. Shelagh Murphy

    Well said… whether one is a royalist or not Elizabeth did more than most will ever know. 70 years of work..right to the end. A very interesting time to be in England. RIP our Queen.

    Reply
    • Mel Wicks

      Yes, interesting time indeed.

      Reply

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