Since the death of our dear monarch was announced, it has been a troubling time. The loss of the queen came as a shock to many, even if you had never met her in person. Many tears were shed after hearing the news. At the other end of the spectrum, some feared the amount of royal coverage that would take over television for the foreseeable future. How could they bear it without going a little crazy?
The country has officially entered ten days of mourning. Although daily life had to go on for the most part, the period of mourning was almost impossible to ignore, with continuous updates on TV and radio. BBC1 became a 24-hour royal news station. Many wondered why there had to be ten days of mourning. There were a lot of questions about the mourning period, something that hasn’t been experienced since Princess Diana’s death in 1997 and not for a reigning monarch in most people’s lives.
Official events soon began. Accession of King Charles III. The Queens coffin moving from Balmoral to Edinburgh. Then the trip to London. The queen lying in state. The vigils of the royal family. The King visiting the four corners of the United Kingdom. There was something going on every day.
It was almost normal for the Queen to visit Scotland. It gave Scots a chance to pay their respects in their own capital, rather than having to travel to London to see Queen. There were a large number of people in the streets and it showed that the Queen was just as popular in Scotland as in England. It also blew a huge hole in Nicola Sturgeons’ plans for Indyref2. No wonder she looked so upset the whole time.
When the Queen arrived in London, you could almost feel the tension in the air. People were willing to line up forever to see her lying in state. With queues of up to twenty hours, it was truly a test of endurance. Standing on the banks of the Thames in the middle of the night is not pleasant when you can’t feel your fingers. Or the toes. Or really anything!
But there was a camaraderie, that you weren’t doing it alone. And there was always the possibility that you might see a passing celebrity or two! Those who did were grateful to be able to pay their respects, though they suffered as a result, with stiff joints, back pain and exhaustion.
Many who chose not to queue for hours decided to leave flowers or traveled to London to see the floral tributes in Green Park. It was quite an incredible sight. They were then able to visit Buckingham Palace or stroll through the mall, hoping to catch a glimpse of a passing Royal. London was like you’ve never seen it before. There was a buzz in the air. There were also a large number of metal barriers, which made it nearly impossible to get close to where you actually wanted to go.
Despite all this, many friendships were made. Those in the queue or on the mall were able to share their experience with strangers standing next to them. It gave people the opportunity to talk to others, bond and communicate, which is very unusual for London. There was a strange mix of emotions, with the sadness of losing our queen mixed with the celebration of our new king. There really was a sense of unity and being part of a historically significant era.
The day of the funeral itself was a day like no other. For one thing, there was hardly anyone on the roads. It was incredibly quiet. People either decided to stay inside and watch the funeral or realized that everything was closed so there was literally no point in going out. You could almost be forgiven for thinking Center Parcs was closed for the day!
Either way, it was a time to watch and savor it all, to breathe and reflect on your own mortality. A chance to slow down and think about our loved ones, family and friends, so that when the world returns to normal, we can enjoy our lives to the fullest.
Whether you agree with ten days of mourning or not, it just had an effect on all of us. Whether you took the time to reflect on your own life or shared the experience with a stranger or had a conversation with a neighbor, there was an impact on each of us that brought us closer together. Which perhaps answers the questions of why we were all given such a period of mourning in the first place.