‘Hello, it’s not a festival today is it?’

Three friends stroll past the long line of food stalls in Hyde Park and marvel at the Burger Shack, the Hog Roast, where they sell “crispy pork baguettes,” and the Doughnuts & Coffee. “Hello, it’s not a festival today or something?” says one of the boys.

Yet Hyde Park, a large park in the middle of London with large video screens so that Brits can follow the farewell of Queen Elizabeth II, has something festival-like. There are food trucks, there are blocks of dixies, water points and endless streams of walking people. The lines at the coffee shops are longest on Monday around half past nine in the morning, when the official start of the funeral takes a while. Yet enough Brits are already ordering a hamburger or a portion Fish & Chips.

The United Kingdom said goodbye to the late Queen Elizabeth on Monday after ten days of mourning. She had a church service with hundreds of invitees from all over the world, with music and psalms that she had partly chosen herself. It was a day full of marches and great display of about 4,000 soldiers.

Sorry about Charles

The only time the crowds in Hyde Park stop for a moment is during the late morning church service. The security guards are still trying to keep the footpaths free of people who want to sit, but they are not successful, it is too busy. Families sit on picnic blankets drinking beer from paper cups with the British flag on them. Dogs are urged to sit, children lifted on the hip and hopped to get them still.

As if it was agreed upon, while playing The Last Post, everyone stands up and then keeps silence for two minutes. There aren’t many tears – ten days is apparently long enough to handle the worst shock of the death of the only queen the average Briton has known.

Still, Sandra O’Brien does have a lump in her throat, she says. She’s eating a bag of chips after everyone has sung the national anthem—the first verse, the second hardly anyone knows—and the Queen’s coffin has just been lifted out of the church. “Her life is so intertwined with ours. I strongly associate her with family life. All the street parties we held to celebrate her anniversaries, none of that will come back.” O’Brien regrets that Crown Prince William has not become king, but that it is Charles’ turn first. “Someone from the younger generation, that would be nice.”

“A little toast is in order,” says Greer McDonald who traveled to London with girlfriend Jackie Reynolds especially to say goodbye

Toast to the Queen

A little further south, towards the Wellington Arch square where the Queen is being transferred from carriage to funeral carriage, friends Greer McDonald and Jackie Reynolds and their families are waiting for the Queen to drop by in the funeral car. On a hill, so that they have a good view, they are drinking sparkling wine. “A small toast is in order,” says McDonald. “Because 96 years, wowI wish my mother had lived that long.”

They came from Wirral especially for the funeral, which is next to Liverpool. “We told each other we would regret it if we didn’t,” McDonald said. They slept in a hotel and were here around eight in the morning. That was already too late for the really good places anyway, the police no longer allowed people in the area where the first procession was held. “Ah, it’s about seeing her come by.”

Also read the obituary about Elizabeth II: The Queen Who Outlived Everyone By Silence For 70 Years

If it had been up to Jackie Reynolds, stores across the country would have closed today. “We all work hard enough. That way you give everyone the time to really honor the queen.” Monday could be an official day off in the UK, companies could decide for themselves whether they really gave their staff off or not. Most shops were closed, some only in the morning or during church service. Cinema chains had no regular programming but broadcast the funeral, just like many pubs opened earlier to show the service.

Shame on Center Parcs

In any case, in recent days there has been a lot of talk about how the business community dealt with national mourning. “I thought it was exaggerated, also typically British,” says Greer McDonald, she can laugh about it. Supermarket chain Morrisons had lowered the beeps at the self-help checkout “as a sign of respect and mourning”, but with the result that customers had trouble checking out because they did not notice whether their products had been scanned or not.

Then there was the energy company Ecotricity that put a photoshopped photo of the queen in bright green company clothing online, “Thanks Liz”, which went wrong with many. And CrossFit VK posted a high-intensity workout on social media in honor of the Queen: 70 lunges, 96 double-unders with skipping rope, “1 minute of peace in silence.”

But the Center Parcs bungalow park received the most derision because they wanted their guests completely off their sites on Monday, so that the staff could also pay their respects to the Queen. After much commotion, Center Parcs reversed the measure, but they did ask guests to stay in their house.

In Hyde Park the atmosphere is relaxed, friendly for the rest of the afternoon. A neat older couple drinks white wine from real glasses, further on two girls march in circles around their parents exactly to the size of the corps. As the car with the coffin drives to Windsor, where the Queen is buried in St. George’s Chapel, applause erupts.

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