Elizabeth is the only Queen I’ve ever known. There may have been other queens around the world, but they weren’t famous in the US like Elizabeth II. I missed her coronation, June 2, 1953 by six years. That’s because I wasn’t born until May of 1959. At least I can watch the next one – for her son, Charles III, and it will happen sometime in 2023. The date – yet to be determined.
Part 1 – The Queen I Knew: I wasn’t a fan in the 90’s of the Queen, or Charles because of Diana, Princess of Wales. She was his first wife, and she was treated horribly by the royal family. I could identify with her . . . I didn’t always get along with my in-laws, but it’s true . . . time heals most wounds.
When Diana died in 1997 in a car accident, I didn’t think I could ever forgive the Queen, or Charles. That I could ever see Camilla as his wife, but time passed. Charles and Camilla married in 2005. Enough time had passed that it felt OK, and now enough time has passed that it feels OK for Camilla to be Queen Consort. I read that some people are still being horrible to them. After 17 years of marriage, it feels like it’s time to let it go, to let them be.
Now I’m happy to look back, to remember Queen Elizabeth II. This is her with her husband on her Coronation Day back in 1953. Elizabeth had been queen since February 6, 1952, the day her father, George VI died. Elizabeth became queen immediately, but coronations take time to plan and practice.
Elizabeth served the United Kingdom for 70 years. She’s the longest reigning monarch in British history. One of the lines I heard repeated the week after her death was something Elizabeth said when she was 21. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,”
Elizabeth kept her promise, for 70 years. That’s an incredible record! Near the end of her life, she was reported to have said the moment I stop, is the moment I drop. She kept going, until the day before she died.
These are Elizabeth’s last two prime ministers. She met with them both at Balmoral Castle on September 6th, two days before she died. She received Boris Johnson’s resignation first. Later in the day she met with Liz Truss and asked her to form a new government.
Over the 70 years Elizabeth reigned, she worked with 15 prime ministers. They met once a week to discuss the state of the country. That’s a lot of meetings! She started with Sir Winston Churchill in 1952. She ended with Liz Truss in September of 2022.
On September 7th, Elizabeth skipped the Privy Council meeting with her advisors. She probably wanted to attend, but her doctors said rest.
On the 8th, her family flew in, trying for one last visit. Some made it. Some didn’t. Elizabeth died at 4:30 PM British time. Her people were told at 6:30 PM. That’s when Charles officially became king.
Part 2 – Scotland Says Goodbye to the Queen:
When the Queen died on September 8th, Operation London Bridge began. It’s a group of plans that Elizabeth made for her family, and for her country. She might have set them up years ago. She probably made changes over the years. London Bridge included a national period of mourning that lasted for 10 days. It started on September 8th with her death, and it ended on the 19th with her funeral.
Operation Unicorn was the set of plans made just for Scotland. The Queen’s body remained at Balmoral from the 8th until the 11th. That’s the day her funeral cortege of cars left Balmoral at 10:46AM to travel to Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
I took a screenshot of Scotland from Bing Images. The Princess Anne followed her mother’s car the whole way through Aberdeenshire, Angus, and Fife, for 175 miles. If you look at the map, you can find Aberdeen, where the Queen’s voyage began, and Edinburgh, where it ended. Angus and Fife must be somewhere in-between.
Along the road people stood to show their respect, to say goodbye. A group of farmers even formed an honor guard of tractors for their Queen. It was another way to thank Elizabeth for her service.
Elizabeth’s cortege of cars arrived at Holyrood Palace at 16:23. That’s 4:23 PM. In England they use a 24-hour clock, like US military time. Elizabeth’s coffin was placed in the Throne Room.
Holyroodhouse is where the Queen used to spend a week at the beginning of summer. She’d attend official engagements and ceremonies. On September 11th and 12 she said her official goodbyes to Scotland and its people.
Elizabeth’s coffin left Holyroodhouse on September 12. She was driven up the Royal Mile one last time to St Giles’ Cathedral. The Bearer Party from the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Company of Archers escorted her cortege.
Her four children followed on foot – King Charles III, Princess Anne and her husband, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. The Queen Consort and Edward’s wife followed by car. Guns were fired from Edinburgh Castle each minute as the Queen traveled up the Royal Mile, one last time.
When Elizabeth arrived, her coffin was carried into the church, and the Crown of Scotland was placed on top. Its history – it’s also known as the James V crown. It was falling apart so he had it remade in 1540. That’s when the first Queen Elizabeth was 6 or 7 years old.
Then St. Giles’ held a service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the second Elizabeth, and her service to Scotland.
The Queen lay in state for 24 hours, guarded by the Royal Company of Archers. Her children stood guard for 10 minutes. It’s a new tradition that started with Elizabeth’s father, George, but only his sons watched over him. Not his daughter. This time Princess Anne joined in too.
The Queen’s Scottish subjects filed by, hour after hour, for 24 hours. No one said a word. I know – I watched AND listened. By the end of that time 33,000 people paid their respects. I did the math . . . That means 1375 people filed by each hour, even during the middle of the night. It says a lot about the Scots, and Elizabeth’s service to them.
Part 3 – Goodbye from London:
On September 13, the Queen was flown from Edinburgh to London. Then she was driven back to her home at Buckingham Palace. Princess Anne was with her every step of the way. In London people lined the streets to say goodbye.
Once her coffin arrived, it was taken to the Bow Room. There, only the royal family was in attendance. I can’t imagine grieving for my mother, with the whole world watching.
On September 14th Elizabeth was on the move again. A military procession carried her coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. Her children, Charles I, Anne, Andrew, and Edward, marched along behind her.
The sounds – overwhelming! Bands playing marches. Big Ben, the world’s most recognizable clock, tolling out each minute, and the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery – they were firing their guns from Hyde Park.
Soldiers from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, carried Elizabeth’s coffin into the Hall. They set it on a platform. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster delivered the service for Elizabeth’s family. And for her country.
The Queen lay in state in Westminster Hall from 2:00PM September 14th until 6:30AM on the 19th. This is a map of that queue. That’s what the Brits call a line you stand in. The Queen’s – its maximum length was 10 miles. The longest waiting time – over 24 hours.
During those five days, over 250,000 people waited to say goodbye. The line ran for 96 hours. When I did the math, they were able to send 2604 people by, each hour.
This is the queu that crossed Lambeth Bridge. It stretched from one side of the Thames to the other. I wonder if it’s the spot where the red line on the map crosses the river at Westminster.
I can’t imagine standing in line for 24 hours, but at least they used arm bands to take breaks – to sit down, get something to eat, or visit the bathroom. I’ve heard no one does lines like the British, and no one does ceremonies like them either.
Here’s Westminster Hall again. The queue passed the queen’s coffin on both sides.
The coffin was guarded by the Sovereign’s Bodyguard and the Household Division. On it sat the Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign’s Orb and Scepter, and flowers from Balmoral and Windsor Castles.
Did you see the queue on American TV? I did. I also saw the Vigil of the Princes. That’s when Elizabeth’s children stood guard for ten minutes on September 16th, like they did in Edinburgh. Her eight grandchildren stood guard on the 17th. The youngest was 14. The oldest, 44. Can you imagine standing at complete attention, with TV cameras watching, and trying not to cry? I can’t!
Elizabeth’s coffin left Westminster Hall at 10:44AM on September 19th. She was carried by the Royal Navy’s Gun Carriage to Westminster Abbey. King Charles, the royal family, and part of the King’s household followed. Queen Victoria started the tradition in 1901, for her funeral.
A wreath of flowers sat on the coffin, with a note from King Charles. A bell tolled 96 times, to remember each year of the Queen’s life. Elizabeth’s coffin arrived at 10:52, and the funeral service began at 11AM. It was attended by leaders and reigning monarchs from all over the world. Over 2000 people came, to celebrate Elizabeth’s life.
The first funeral procession left Westminster Abbey at 12:15, headed toward Wellington Arch. This is the arcch. It sits in the middle of a traffic island between Hyde Park and Green Park. Her four children marched behind the coffin. Seven military bands and 3000 military personnel joined in. The royal family followed by car. Elizabeth’s procession was over a mile-long, and approximately a million people lined its route.
Next Elizabeth’s coffin travelled by hearse. It left the Wellington arch at 1:30PM. Her driver didn’t use the motorway, their interstate. They took the A roads so people could watch along the way. Their A roads are like American highways.
Elizabeth arrived at 3:00 for the final procession, down the Long Walk to Windsor Castle. I watched, and it was amazing. One thousand military personnel took part. Around 97,000 people lined either side of the walk.
Her pony Emma stood to the side. So did her corgis, Muick and Sandy. All those people, but all I heard was the march of feet. Amazing, so many people, so silent and still.
The King and the royal family joined the procession at the Quadrangle. That’s the lawn inside the castle grounds. Then bells tolled from two towers. The King’s Troop, the Royal Horse Artillery, fired guns from the castle’s east lawn.
An honor guard from the 1st Battalion Grenadiers carried her coffin into St. George’s Chapel, inside the grounds of Windsor Castle. Elizabeth’s service began at 4PM. The 800 people in attendance, they were mostly members of the royal household and the staff from the Queen’s private estates. They served Elizabeth over the days, months, even years of her lifetime.
The seats were also filled by the royal family, the British governors general of the Commonwealth Nations, their prime ministers, and reigning monarchs from around the world.
The Dean of Winsor conducted the funeral service. He used the same order that had been used for Elizabeth’s grandparents and her father, George VI.
The Crown Jeweler, Mark Appleby took her crown, scepter, and orb near the end of the service. They were placed on the alter, to be saved for the coronation of the next king. Elizabeth received them at hers, back in 1953.
Then the Lord Chamberlain of England, Lord Parker of Minsmere, broke her ceremonial staff, her wand of state. He laid the pieces on her coffin. The Queen’s Piper, Paul Burns, played as she was lowered into the Royal Vault. Then the National Anthem was sung, with one small change – God Save the King.
The royal family held a private service later, at 7:30PM. At long last, after eleven days to say goodbye, Elizabeth II was laid to rest in the family vault with her parents, her husband, and her sister.
These were Queen Elizabeth’s Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign’s Orb, and Scepter. They’ll be safe in storage until sometime in 2023, when it’s time to pass them onto Charles III, at his coronation.
Part 4 – Missing the Queen? Here are 4 books to help you and your little ones remember Queen Elizabeth II. One of the things I learned after she died, was how devoted she was to her family, and to her people.
I wrote a review of The Queen’s Hat back in June of 2017. Here’s a link to that review: http://www.rindabeach.com/my-reads/review-of-the-queens-hat
And here are the Amazon Descriptions of the books in the Queen collection . . .
The Queen’s Hat – A sudden gust of wind sets off a marvelous adventure for the Queen, lots of Queen's men, and one very special hat. Just where will that hat land? Following a hysterical, epic hat chase, the Queen is reunited with her hat -- and the royal baby! AKA, Princess Charlotte, who now in 2022 got her way and attended her great-grandmother’s funeral.
The Queen’s Present – The Queen is off on a round-the-world tour in search of the perfect Christmas present. And she's not alone... Father Christmas is here to help!
The Queen’s Handbag – A very naughty thief has stolen the Queen's handbag! There's only one thing to do: chase the thief all over the landmarks of Great Britain! Hold on to your hats and join the Queen in this epic wild goose chase after one sneaky swan by car.
The Queen’s Lift-Off – The Queen's off to space! Travelling at the speed of light, she goes where no man (or Queen) has gone before. From the Moon to Mars, via Mercury. No planet is left unexplored. But will she be back in time for tea?
Photo Sources for Part 1:
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson - By Ben Shread / Cabinet Office, OGL 3, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83764351
The New Prime Minister Liz Truss - y Prime Minister's Office - https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-minister-liz-trusss-statement-6-september-2022, OGL 3,
Balmoral Castle - By Stuart Yeates from Oxford, UK - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=728182
Photo Sources for Part 2:
Balmoral Castle – B’y Stuart Yeates from Oxford, UK - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=728182
Map of Scotland – Screenshot from Bing images
Holyroodhouse - By XtoF - Own workMore of my work on my photoblog: https://www.xtof.photo, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60549142
Procession to St. Giles – By Taras Young - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=122931881
Crown of Scotland - By The Scottish Parliament. - https://www.flickr.com/photos/scotparl/15242887727/in/album-72157648268879636/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50147418
St. Giles’ Cathedral - By Carlos Delgado - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35465527
Photo Sources for Part 3:
Screenshot of the Queue from Wikipedia
Queue at Lambeth Bridge – CC BY-SA 4.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71772152
Westminster Hall – By Katie Chan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=123134491
Westminster Abbey – By Σπάρτακος (changes by Rabanus Flavus) - File: Westminster-Abbey.JPG, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76031882
Wellington Arch – By Ermell - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55560305
Windsor Palace - By Diliff - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3811084
St. George’s Chapel Exterior – By Aurelien Guichard from London, United Kingdom (changes by Rabanus Flavus) - File:St. Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle (1).jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67647692
St. George’s Chapel Interior – By Jack Pease, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39655608
Information Sources for this Post:
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!