You must have been living on Mars, or as a hermit, not to have heard that Queen Elizabeth II passed away last week. Here in the UK we are in a period of official mourning such as most of us have never experienced. Whether you are a fervent monarchist, staunch republican or (like me) somewhere on a scale between those two extremes, it’s hard not to be fascinated by the sense of history that surrounds us right now.
Most of us have never known a Britain without the Queen. She came to the throne in 1952, before the majority of the population was born. So she has been part of the backdrop to our lives, unquestioned for the most part, adored by some, accepted by most and resented by a few. She popped up on news stories almost weekly: welcoming visiting dignitaries, opening a community centre, touring her realm. She oversaw massive change in the Commonwealth and here in the UK. And more changes are likely to follow her death, so this definitely feels like a moment in history.
London bids farewell
This post however isn’t about my own views on the monarchy or indeed those of anyone else. As a Londoner I simply felt the need to document a little of what is happening in my city right now. No. I’m not going to join the by-now famous queue to see the Queen lying in state. Even if I wanted to, my back couldn’t take the (currently as I write) fourteen hours of shuffling forwards for a brief moment in Westminster Hall.
But yesterday I visited Green Park to see the mountains of flowers laid in tribute. Our florists must feel as if Christmas has come early! My photos show just one small corner of the park; roughly half of what is a sizeable park looks like this. And if the presence of Paddington Bear surprises anyone, this article on the BBC website will explain it.
It was hard to take photos in the shade under the trees in the park. Please click on any image to open them in a slide show if you want to see the details.
Along the Mall to the Palace
I also took a walk down the Mall and past Buckingham Palace. I observed arrangements being made for the funeral on Monday and the lines of people paying their respects there. Roads are closed and there are dedicated walking routes in place all around this area. The logistical and security challenges must be immense, both here and all along the queue for the lying in state. And all this before five hundred VIPs arrive on Monday for the funeral itself!
I thought those of you who know London might be interested to see how different it looks, and feels, just now, as our capital bids farewell to a monarch.
I live in London; all these photos were taken in September 2022