The Queen – Lying in State

Fame / 16th September, 2022

I heard the queen was unwell on Thursday 8th September – a day after ceremonially handing over power to Liz Truss the new PM at Balmoral  – I felt surely this was just a precaution especially after Jubilee celebrations, where she restricted her appearances, so was stunned and shocked when it was all over so quickly, at 5.30pm the official announcement came through as i parked the car with the children on the drive.
 
I was more upset than I could conceive – a gamut of feelings. 
Even though illogical I saw her as immortal – a fixed point  – an immovable foundation. So the suddenness of her removal – created for me ( and it seems for others)  an emotional tsunami which centred on her huge selfless contribution to mankind and added a laser focus to examine what you have done (or not done):to re-examine your own mortality and another reminder about my own Mum ( of a similar age)- suffering desperately with advanced dementia.
 
I was determined to go to see the queen lying in state and felt best to go as soon as possible. Fortunately Mike (under a Jo initiative ) could go earlier so we all gathered in Berkhampstead. I was a late arrival around 11pm and we were then up at 3am and away via Stratford on Jubilee Tube to make an early Q arrival. We feared Rotherhithe would be our start point so were greatly relived when we managed to start north of Tower Bridge in the Q at 5.58am- brown bands shortly after were attached to limbs.
It was a beautiful bright sunny day with a chill but although the Q moved slowly, it moved and we fell easily in with the swell, slow and fast of the crowd. Leigh joined us a man on his own, a retired maths teacher from Putney, his Mum had died earlier this year and we formed a small close tribe edging along the Southbank passing numerous landmarks. The knockout section was the Covid bank of remembrance with all the love hearts and seemingly so close, but the long seemingly interminable wait continued into ‘Victoria Snake Park’  the last hurrah before actually getting into Westminster Hall. We only sat down for a few minutes after 7 hours but ‘Snake Park’ was unremitting – it was however well worth the wait. 
In just a few minutes all was upon us, through security and up the stairs into then Hall itself with its magnificent hammer beam 11th century roof and The Queens coffin, with subtle stadium lighting, surrounded by the duty guards standing watch, in the process of the changeover. The Masters of Ceremonies had a solemn and a purposeful firmness in keeping people moving forward, I inspected the whiskery Yeoman wearing glasses with his splendent garments and was in awe of the sheer height of the Catafalque,  and the crown, sceptre and orb resting aloft.  I watched the beat of the line and took my opportunity to to step forward to be closer to to pay my respects and bow. “Thank you Ma’am”  
 
As has been noted by many The Queen was an indelible part of the fixtures and fittings of everyday life but wielded enormous soft power….  having not been tied to political parties and seen out 15 prime ministers she linked back the centuries, to the Boer War of a distant age and our own digital century and having such a consummate interest in world affairs she was able to make a real profound difference during her 70 years reign and was not in fear of Change
 
I believe we will never see her like again……………

Posted by: Fawkes