The world has felt a little strange over the last few days.
I watched as events unfolded last Thursday live on TV. With the announcement from Buckingham Palace that The Queen was under medical supervision at Balmoral, the BBC suspended all programming around lunchtime, changed into black outfits and began preparing us without actually saying it out loud. It was when the plane carrying William, Edward, Sophie and Andrew landed in Scotland that I think we all knew, and the announcement was made at 6.30pm from the Palace that Queen Elizabeth II – our longest reigning monarch – had passed away at the age of 96, just months after celebrating her Platinum Jubilee.
In a time of immense political, social and economic upheaval and uncertainty here in the UK, to lose the one constant who has dedicated her life to a country in a job that she wasn’t meant to have, is a truly sad loss.
The Queen has been the reigning monarch not just for the entirety of my life, but that of of my mother’s life too. As someone pointed out on Twitter, the Queen’s face is on our coins, bank notes and stamps, we regularly sing an anthem to her, her portrait hangs in buildings all over the country. She is woven into the very fabric of our daily lives, even if we aren’t always aware of it.
Whether you’re in support of the monarchy or not, this is truly the end of an era.
As circumstances had it, I happened to be in London. I decided to brave the crowds and go to Buckingham Palace to pay my respects on Friday morning – this is a moment in history that I am unlikely to experience again – and even at 7.30am there were an enormous amount of people doing the same. The mood was somber, with lots of flowers already starting to line the front of the palace, and a rendition of ‘God Save the King,’ (the first time I had heard it) had a surprisingly unsettling tone in my ears. Indeed, Charles is now King Charles III. After 40 years, it’s going to take me, and indeed many of us, a while to get used to it – I’ve seen more than a few “God save our Qu..ing” happening in the many processions and ceremonial events that have followed.
And now as we begin a period of national mourning and Operation London Bridge (and because she passed away in Scotland, Operation Unicorn) has gone into action, we will witness the first State Funeral since Churchill and the first Coronation since 1953 – something that many of the nation will never have experienced before. For me, watching her coffin start its journey back to London was certainly quite emotional.
However, despite the chaos that we currently find ourselves in, there’s one thing I’m certain of: if there is something that we excel at, it is the pomp and circumstance, tradition and absolute precision of a Royal event where the country comes together in support of each other.
RIP Queen Elizabeth II. Thank you.