Following the queen’s death, 10 days of mourning took place. Flags were at half mast, and the Queen’s face was everywhere, from bus stops, to billboards, storefronts, and papers. On the day of the funeral, my friend and I left our apartment at 4 a.m. We got the chance to congregate at what is considered “The Mall,” a long road just outside of Buckingham Palace. People had already been camping for days when we arrived, and as the hours went on, thousands more continued to appear. Camera crews were everywhere, and at one point I turned my head around only to see a camera just inches from my face. It turns out that they were taking pictures of the family sleeping on the floor in front of me, so when I was scrolling through my social media the next morning, I saw my arm and leg posted on the Daily Mail.
Most of our time was spent standing, packed like sardines behind the barriers lining the road. In the first few hours of waiting, I alternated between sitting in any ground space available, and standing when the crowds continued to multiply. Cell service was essentially nonexistent with the vast amount of people there, so I restored to beating over 50 levels of Candy Crush on my phone. The hushed voices of people talking around me and the occasional announcement playing from the speakers filled the air. At one point, the royal family drove by in their cars on the way to the service from Buckingham Palace. That was the most action we had witnessed in hours. The actual funeral service was blasted from the speakers, so during part of our nine-hour wait for the procession, we listened. It wasn’t until early afternoon, after the service, that the procession took place. As the nation was at a standstill, every branch of the British Armed Forces walked in the procession.
As an American, I can’t say Queen Elizabeth was really “my’' queen, but she was the world’s queen. Having lived through the last 20 years of her reign, she is the only monarch I have ever known. Going to the university I go to, and being in the city that I am in, I have friends from Italy, Brazil, Spain, China and Egypt, just to name a few countries. Being able to hear what Queen Elizabeth meant to all of them and/or their countries was interesting. They may have their own monarchies, but the British monarchy is arguably the most well known. We have all grown up watching them from across the world, growing up alongside some of them. Watching the royal family walk behind her coffin with my own eyes was such a unique event. They were no longer just faces in pictures or on screens, they became real people to me. It made me realize that they are like every other family, mourning the loss of a loved one, just under worldwide scrutiny.
I’ve heard people talk about where they were when Reagan was shot, JFK was killed, or when the twin towers fell. For me, this is one of the times in history where I will always remember the moment I heard the beloved Queen Elizabeth II passed.