London Day One. A Long Day And Long Lines At Westminster Abbey To Pay Respects To The Queen.
Being one who enjoys history, and, having been fortunate to have attended Pope John Paul II ‘s funeral, the election of Pope Francis, and three Presidential inaugurations, it didn’t take me long to decide to travel to London to pay my respects to Queen Elizabeth II after learning of her passing. I am usually not a big advocate of Royalty but this was an historic event and, as I learned even more after my trip, she lived a life of service and duty and was much loved by the British people. It has been a hectic, somber, historic, but also informative and fun week, here in London. I wrote this blog at Heathrow airport in London on my journey home.
I began my trip over a week ago, on the Thursday before the funeral, taking an early flight out of the Newark New Jersey airport. It wasn’t easy arranging travel and housing in London. The hotels were being booking and the prices spiraling upward as I spoke with the pleasant young lady from American Express travel in Texas who assisted me. She helped me book a flight and a room in London and both have been superb. ( although a lot more pricy than usual).
I was amazed how quickly I walked through immigration in the busy airport. United States passport holders avoided the long lines forming in order to clear immigration. I had no checked luggage and had no problem walking right out of the airport. I had to walk a bit to catch a train on the Piccadilly Underground line to Kings Cross Station in London. It was about an hour ride on the underground to the bustling Kings Cross Station in Central London. I enjoyed the ride and engaged in one of my favorite activities when riding on a train, people watching.
I took the long lifts up to the exit and entered the cool evening air of London. My hotel, The Standard, was located nearby and I quickly registered, checked out my comfortable, and expensive room, unpacked,
There was a large crowd of folks gathered here. The night air was filled with excitement and sadness. Of course there was the din of the thousands of folks who came to see this historic scene. the soft and loud conversations, laughter and shouting of the many folks assembled at the Westminster station, were,
contrasted by many folks sobbing, some quietly, some loudly, and many carrying flowers, mourning the loss of their beloved Queen. I walked over to the Thames River, and reflected on this sad and historic occasion, and thought about the 96 year old Queen who served her Country for a remarkable 70 years, the longest reign of any British monarch. There were few people in the crowd who were born before her reign in 1952. .
The streets were blocked off and the crowds had to follow a passage lined with London bobbies in their traditional outfits, and yellow coated security contractors. Many members of the British military were also visible. I walked through the crowds toward Westminster Abbey, were the Queen was Lying-In -State .
Here I saw the end of the now famous “queue”, a line of devoted citizens of Great Britain , and admirers from around the globe who waited for a many as 24 hours to get a glimpse of, and pay their final respects to the Queen.
I had hoped to do so too, but I was thinking the lines would only be a few hours. The fastest time to stand in the ” queue” was 11 hours and I couldn’t do that at his stage of my life. I walked along the “queue” reflecting on this devoted crowd and the historical significance of the Queen’s passing. And of course, on the life of service of the Queen. I knew that evening she touched the hearts of her citizens , and this also endeared me to this beloved fellow human.
It was late now around 11 p.m. London time, 4 a.m. my time and I was tired and hungry. I returned to my hotel at King’s Cross and was lucky to find the restaurant at the hotel was still open when I arrived after midnight. I had a good Caesar’s salad and a delicious vegan burger and was soon in my room. I was exhausted but excited and didn’t sleep well, looking forward to exploring London during his sad and historic time early the next day.
I reflected on the death of the Queen , and will not debate the concept of royalty here, Queen Elizabeth II was Queen of her Nation, but she was also a human, very much loved and who performed great service. She was a part of us all, and I was here to pay my respects to her, her family and the Nation that loved here. Thinking those thoughts I eventually fell asleep. Here is a link to some more photos from my first day in London. London Day One. Travel and Evening September 15 2022.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.