Hello, dear readers. In the ensuing days since the announcement of Queen Elizabeth’s demise, the media has been careful to cover her final progress throughout the country. I was amazed to learn that once the coffin made it to London, the queue to view it reached a record-breaking 24-hour-long wait at its longest. One saw so many people shuffling past the coffin in quiet respect wearing running or walking shoes with a backpack slung over their shoulders. That was not a consequence of bad fashion choices but of necessity, with the most likely contents of these rucksacks being provisions such as water and protein bars, snacks, or fruit. I read that David Beckham, a famous soccer (football) athlete, didn’t play the celebrity card and waited with everyone else for 12 hours to pay his last respects. I may not be a soccer fan, but now I’m a fan of David Beckham.
The funeral service was dignified as she would have wanted. As the pallbearers carried that weight so carefully, I wondered about their collective blood pressures. That was such an honored position and even though it was practiced over and over, you know at least one was probably thinking “So-and-so better not screw this up” or “I better not screw this up”, and that couldn’t have made for an easy night of sleep beforehand. Thank goodness, no gaffes from this viewer were noted. They will be talking about their participation in this for the rest of their lives – and rightly so. It’s not every day one helps such a notable monarch to their final resting place. Good job, kind sirs.
The walking procession was, for the most part, somber, fitting the event, but I was confused by the occasional sporadic clapping on certain parts of the route. Naturally, we want to celebrate the Queen’s life and achievements, but a funeral procession is not the place to do it. This was her last progress. Anywhere. I’m generally not big on any protocol for most events, but when it’s someone’s last huzzah, rules need to be followed. If perhaps, Queen Elizabeth had been what most of us would call a “free spirit”, then maybe a more lively service would have been called for, but she helped engineer this, even designing the special hearse that would transport her corporeal remains. No court jesters or mimes to work the crowds called for here. To soften this criticism, I imagine the people who were clapping meant no disrespect, but it did feel weird to me.
On a more practical note, I sure hope the Queen’s guards and the dignitaries who marched along had inserted sturdy foot support for their arches and were wearing band-aids on their heels. From my experience in the military, uniform dress shoes were not made for walking long distances and could be quite uncomfortable. There was at least one dignitary who was a woman…wearing heels. OUCH! I’m sure she kept the long walk in mind and did what she could to ameliorate the effect of wearing fashionable footwear, but her feet are certainly aching tonight.
I must honestly say I’ve never heard a dirge played until now. I thought I had until I saw this funeral. And now we know why it’s called a “dirge”. Even spoken, the word comes out of tight lips wrapped around the consonant d, a short “er” to the softened g. I am going to hear those few bars, repeated over and over, in my head for a day or two.
As the hearse reached Windsor Castle, flowers on the hood and roof that were tossed by mourners as it slowly passed by the crowd were looking slightly wilted, which only lent to the sadness and finality marking this occasion. Strangely enough for me, what truly noted the end of it all was when the crown, the scepter, and the orb were removed from the coffin and then placed on the purple pillows, and the breaking of the Wand of Office. I cried all over again. I’m not a big fan of jewelry, expensive geegaws, and what-not, but these were symbols of the office of the monarch. They will await their next keeper, King Charles, at his coronation. King Charles III will not have the luxury of time on his hands, but there are those of us who have high hopes that he will fulfill his station as well as his mother, if not in an entirely different fashion.
It was a grand funeral with everyone, even the youngest royals, on their best behavior. Heads of governments from all over the world showed and put on their best face. No public squabbles or harsh opinions, only words of sympathy were exchanged. This was a once in a lifetime event. Even if King Charles III were to die next year (no, we don’t want that to happen), there would not be the same unification this death has brought. We wait to see what he will do with his reign. God Save The King.