Today was the state funeral of our Monarch of over 70 years. The Queen was always a constant in our lives and reigned over us and our generations. Her passing was not so much a surprise but it was the suddenness of her death that took many of us by surprise.
The nation has mourned for 10 days and followed the events across our combined countries and welcomed a new King to reign over us. Things will never be the same again. There will be a new set of coinage with King Charles III image on them. He will face in the opposite direction to his mother as it is alternated for each monarch.
As I crossed London today where over a million people flooded in to witness this moment in history there was a real sense of sadness. Advertising on the digital hoardings and on the London Underground were suspended. All that was there was a black background with EIIR written on it.
Many shops and restaurants were closed at least until the activities are concluded as a mark of respect and to allow their workers to witness the service today. I do feel though that the last 10 days have been a remarkable celebration of her life and the emotions have been genuine and spontaneous.
London looks amazing at the moment and the pomp and ceremony is immaculate. What about the Queue as well? Brits like to queue and boy did they queue over the last few days. Over 400,000 queued around the clock to pay their final respects and thanks to Elizabeth II. A Nation brought together in a show of grief and thanks. The changing of the guards at each corner of the vigil of the lying in state was precision itself and quite addictive to watch.
I never met the Queen or even got close to her but I did see her on four occasions in my lifetime. I have memories of standing on the kerbside as a child waiting for the Royal car to drive past. I also saw her getting out of her white Rolls Royce when attending a film premiere at Leicester Square, London. I was working in Central London and just happened across the occasion and waited patiently behind the pedestrian barriers waiting for her arrival.
In 2012 the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, she visited Bromley, South East London, where I was working, and her motorcade passed right in front of the offices. We all had our noses pressed up against the windows on the first floor waiting for the Royal Claret Rolls Royce to come into view. She spent a hour or two in the town and visited the Queen’s Gardens and the high street.
In 2014 I was a guest of the Commonwealth of Kentucky at Royal Ascot. Famously the Royal Family arrive by horse drawn carriage from the gates of Windsor directly onto the racecourse at Ascot. The Queen was sat on the wrong side of her carriage that day to get a great picture so I took a picture of the screen that live feeds were showing.
There have been hundreds of bouquets of flowers laid out across the cities and towns as citizens mark her passing and to thank her for all her service over these many, many years.
God Save the King!