A first hand account of Queen Elizabeth’s death, funeral, and the impact on the United Kingdom.
By Madison Sciba
On September 8th, 2022 the BBC announced to the world that the longest reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away. The United Kingdom was thrust into a period of deep sadness and mourning, their beloved Queen ruling no more. Her funeral was held at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19th. Following the service, a procession carried her coffin from Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle, her final resting place. Reports claim that over one million people lined the streets of central London the day of the Queen’s funeral to pay their respects. I had the great opportunity to be one of those one million people.
The funeral service at Westminster started at 11 am with the procession leaving the Abbey starting at noon. My friends and I took the London Underground (the tube), getting to the city center at 9:30am. The tube was jam packed with people just trying to get to the central stations and rushing to the road the procession would come down. After being told by an officer that Saint James’s Park along the route was at capacity, us and about a hundred other people were sent 2 miles through the city to Hyde Park. Once there, we were told that Hyde Park, where they had viewing screens up, was also at capacity. We were told to stand on either side of the road that ran parallel to the park, leaving us standing right behind the French embassy.
For hours we stood there shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world, all of us there to experience the historical event. I could barely see the road, relying on my 6ft friend to tell me what was going on. Sick of the crowd, one guy decided to climb a power control box, getting the best view of the road. “SHE'S COMING!” He screamed the second the hearse appeared in his sights. Around 1:40 pm, after standing in that crowd for almost 4 hours, I saw a few second glimpse of the Queen’s casket and the Imperial State Crown that rested on top.
Now, over a month later, the UK is still feeling the impact of the Queen’s death. Almost 2 months into his reign, King Charles III has already seen the resignation of a Prime Minister, rapidly growing inflation, the devaluation of the British pound, tension within the royal family, and a series of destructive protests. PM Liz Truss resigned after a record short 45 days in office after her economic reforms caused horrible problems for the British economy. One ongoing joke in the United Kingdom was a live stream that was set up featuring a head of lettuce in a blonde wig, mocking Truss. The goal of the live stream was to see which would last longer, Truss or the head of lettuce in a wig. Funnily enough, the lettuce had a longer shelf life than the former prime minister.
Now that we are starting to see an ease of COVID precautions and worries, Saint Mary’s study abroad program is back, and I am one of 4 students currently studying at Queen Mary University of London and there are many other SMC students studying at other universities all over the world. Studying abroad has given me the opportunity to live through these historical events as they are unfolding. Living in Britain at the very beginning of the reign of a new monarch is an incredible experience, British monarchs play such an important role in not just the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, but also in the world. Queen Elizabeth II, who ruled for 70 years, was a leading figure on the world stage and it is a great opportunity that I have to see King Charles III step into the role of king and try to live up to his mother’s legacy.
Madison Sciba '24,