Three friends stroll past the long line of food stalls in Hyde Park and marvelat 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 screensso that Brits can follow the farewell of Queen Elizabeth II, has somethingfestival-like. There are food trucks, there are blocks of dixies, water pointsand endless streams of walking people. The lines at the coffee shops arelongest on Monday around half past nine in the morning, when the officialstart of the funeral takes a while. Yet enough Brits are already ordering ahamburger or a portion Fish & Chips.
The United Kingdom said goodbye to the late Queen Elizabeth on Monday afterten days of mourning. She had a church service with hundreds of invitees fromall 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 latemorning church service. The security guards are still trying to keep thefootpaths free of people who want to sit, but they are not successful, it istoo busy. Families sit on picnic blankets drinking beer from paper cups withthe British flag on them. Dogs are urged to sit, children lifted on the hipand hopped to get them still.
As if it was agreed upon, while playing The Last Post, everyone stands up andthen keeps silence for two minutes. There aren’t many tears – ten days isapparently long enough to handle the worst shock of the death of the onlyqueen the average Briton has known.
Still, Sandra O’Brien does have a lump in her throat, she says. She’s eating abag of chips after everyone has sung the national anthem—the first verse, thesecond hardly anyone knows—and the Queen’s coffin has just been lifted out ofthe church. “Her life is so intertwined with ours. I strongly associate herwith family life. All the street parties we held to celebrate heranniversaries, none of that will come back.” O’Brien regrets that Crown PrinceWilliam has not become king, but that it is Charles’ turn first. “Someone fromthe 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 isbeing transferred from carriage to funeral carriage, friends Greer McDonaldand Jackie Reynolds and their families are waiting for the Queen to drop by inthe funeral car. On a hill, so that they have a good view, they are drinkingsparkling wine. “A small toast is in order,” says McDonald. “Because 96 years,wow I 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. Theyslept in a hotel and were here around eight in the morning. That was alreadytoo late for the really good places anyway, the police no longer allowedpeople in the area where the first procession was held. “Ah, it’s about seeingher come by.”
Also read the obituary about Elizabeth II: The Queen Who Outlived EveryoneBy Silence For 70 Years
If it had been up to Jackie Reynolds, stores across the country would haveclosed today. “We all work hard enough. That way you give everyone the time toreally honor the queen.” Monday could be an official day off in the UK,companies could decide for themselves whether they really gave their staff offor not. Most shops were closed, some only in the morning or during churchservice. 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 thebusiness community dealt with national mourning. “I thought it wasexaggerated, also typically British,” says Greer McDonald, she can laugh aboutit. Supermarket chain Morrisons had lowered the beeps at the self-helpcheckout “as a sign of respect and mourning”, but with the result thatcustomers had trouble checking out because they did not notice whether theirproducts had been scanned or not.
Then there was the energy company Ecotricity that put a photoshopped photo ofthe queen in bright green company clothing online, “Thanks Liz”, which wentwrong with many. And CrossFit VK posted a high-intensity workout on socialmedia 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 theywanted their guests completely off their sites on Monday, so that the staffcould also pay their respects to the Queen. After much commotion, Center Parcsreversed the measure, but they did ask guests to stay in their house.
In Hyde Park the atmosphere is relaxed, friendly for the rest of theafternoon. A neat older couple drinks white wine from real glasses, further ontwo girls march in circles around their parents exactly to the size of thecorps. As the car with the coffin drives to Windsor, where the Queen is buriedin St. George’s Chapel, applause erupts.