DIARY: Queen’s death reveals fragmented views about monarchy

Sep 20, 2022, 12:13 AM | Updated: 1:18 pm
People bring floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, the day after her funeral in London's Green Par...

People bring floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, the day after her funeral in London's Green Park, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. The Queen, who died aged 96 on Sept. 8, was buried at Windsor alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

(AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The silence was palpable when the imperial state crown was removed from the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II and placed on the altar of St. George’s Chapel — the first time in 70 years the dazzling symbol of Britain’s monarchy was separated from the sovereign.

My assignment covering a nation in mourning came down to parsing what those fleeting seconds has meant to this society, from the upper echelons of British nobility down to newly arrived migrants hoping to carve out a better life in a new country.

The 10 days I have spent here since Elizabeth’s death has taken me from Windsor Castle’s sumptuous interiors — the official residence of the royal family — to forgotten districts beyond the bustle of London, the glamorous British capital.

I’ve stood in line for hours with strangers devoted to the queen and desperate to say a final goodbye. Stood in the rain with thousands hoping to catch a glimpse of the hearse whizzing toward Buckingham Palace’s imposing gates. I’ve witnessed countless tears shed by young and old, from people as far away as South Africa to as nearby as the English city of Reading.

In the spaces between the devoted and the apathetic, I have encountered Britons who are ambivalent or undecided about the significance of the monarchy in their lives — or completely indifferent.

Diaspora communities, whose forefathers suffered under the brutalities of British colonialism, are still struggling to come to terms with that legacy. A younger generation of immigrants have not yet reconciled that violent history with their own identity as Brits. Some told me they see themselves as “Londoners” — identifying with the hip, cosmopolitan capital — but not “British,” part of the United Kingdom of which the monarch is the head of state.

I’ve also met people who downright don’t care.

Some planned weekend getaways to avoid the crowds swooning over the late monarch. A relentless barrage of Twitter memes have been poking fun at the queen’s demise.

Still, history weighed heavily inside St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Monday, the day of Elizabeth’s funeral.

Founded in the 14th century by King Edward III, the ornate chapel has belonged to the monarchy for 1,000 years. It has been the scene of many royal events, from funerals to baptisms to royal weddings like that of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

Ornate stone craftsmanship draws the eye up to the ellipse-shaped roof, irreplaceable and meticulous woodwork lines the path toward the catafalque. Here, the chapter clerk of the chapel told a group of reporters how every step in the committal service, a more intimate gathering compared to the state funeral in Westminster Abbey, was plotted carefully by the queen.

Every hymn was her choice, except for the very last.

The removal of the crown was an extraordinary moment, the clerk explained. Though steeped in the spectacle of royal grandeur, it embodies a powerful moment of change: moving from head of sovereign’s coffin to the altar, only to return to the head of a new sovereign — King Charles III — when he is crowned.

Yet the vast majority of the country is not privy to the intimate details of the life of the late monarch they loved — they have spent their entire lives watching from afar.

“We couldn’t get as close as we wanted to see it properly,” said Rachel Mfundiri, who was still standing outside the castle’s imposing gates after Elizabeth was interred. She had come to witness history but now that it was over, she didn’t quite know quite where to go.

“It’s kind of unknown what happens next, to see how the monarchy changes,” she said, as the first raindrops of the day began to fall. “It’s sad, very sad.”

In London, it was business as usual.

Restaurants and bars were buzzing with tourists until the late hours. In one bar, a singer dressed in 1930s garb raised a glass — “to our lovely queen” she said, followed by, “but I can’t dedicate this next song to her.” She proceeded to belt out a George Michael tune as the audience cheered.

I found support for the late queen in unexpected places.

Inside London Central Mosque, an old photo of Elizabeth’s father, King George VI is plastered alongside bulletins announcing recent events.

The late king had opened the Islamic Cultural Center, now part of the grand mosque complex, in 1944, in recognition of Muslim efforts in fighting alongside the British Empire during World War II.

“We have always had strong links with the monarchy,” said Ayaz Zuberi, a spokesman for the mosque.

Even among Elizabeth’s ardent supporters, it was not possible to generalize their individual reasons for wanting to pay their respects to her years of service. For many it was personal: A family member had recently passed away, a deep sense of respect lingered.

Or, in Mili Patel’s case, wanting to show her young daughter the importance of the past.

Patel had folded up her lawn chair and was heading away from the lawns of the Long Walk, the processional route leading to Windsor Castle. She had come with her daughter Sybill, arriving at 5 a.m. and staying for 12 hours to see the queen — or at least her coffin — for the last time.

“It will be the last queen in (my daughter’s) generation,” she said. “I wanted her to see it.”

Follow all AP stories on Britain’s royal family at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A customer waits for service at a Optus phone store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, ...
Associated Press

Australian police probe purported hacker’s ransom demand

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian police were investigating a report that a purported hacker had already released the stolen personal data of 10,000 Optus customers and was demanding a $1 million ransom in cryptocurrency, the telecommunications company’s chief executive said on Tuesday. The Australian government has blamed lax cybersecurity at the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Foes of Arizona voucher expansion likely fail to make ballot

PHOENIX (AP) — A massive expansion of Arizona’s private school voucher system will likely go into effect after public school advocates failed to gather enough signatures to block the law, a conservative think tank that supports the expansion said Monday. The Goldwater Institute, a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank in Phoenix, said Save […]
19 hours ago
FILE - In this image from a video, Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a campaign speech...
Associated Press

Japan holding state funeral for ex-leader Abe amid tensions

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is filled with tension, rather than sadness, on Tuesday as a rare state funeral for the assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one of the most divisive leader, deeply splits the nation. Tokyo was under maximum security, with a large number of uniformed police mobilize around the Budokan hall, where the […]
19 hours ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a...
Associated Press

Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across a guided missile cruiser from China, officials said Monday. But it turned out the cruiser wasn’t alone as it sailed about 86 miles (138 kilometers) north of Alaska’s Kiska Island, on Sept. 19. The patrol boat, known […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Appeals court blocks California ban on for-profit prisons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A larger panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday again blocked California’s first-in-the-nation ban on for-profit private prisons and immigration detention facilities, finding that it is trumped by the federal government. A three-judge appellate panel last year rejected the 2019 state law that would have phased out […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-Nigerian official gets 5 years for pandemic fraud in US

SEATTLE (AP) — A former Nigerian government official was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for stealing more than $500,000 in pandemic relief benefits in the United States. Abidemi Rufai was wearing a $10,000 watch and $35,000 gold chain when he was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York on his way to […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
DIARY: Queen’s death reveals fragmented views about monarchy