Hundreds of thousands of Britons spent the night in the rain, staring at big screens in complete silence for an hour, traveling from Portsmouth, Birmingham and Milton Keynes to London and Windsor for the Queen’s memorial service. Why? Her Katrien Vanderschoot, a foreign journalist, tracked them down on the spot and is now convinced.

I have already left for London on the Eurostar. The news was confirmed that Thursday afternoon as it surfaced from beneath the Channel. The Queen has passed away. The woman next to me has tears in her eyes and another is calling her kids right away to see if they can handle the news. The atmosphere on the train is brooding and subdued, save for a handful of loud Americans. This is how an entire week of emotional rollercoasters goes.

The first night the British still can’t get the news. An unknown woman who had just celebrated 70 years on the throne suddenly disappeared from their lives. “Was she still shaking hands with the new prime minister two days ago?” People emerge from the darkness with bouquets. It’s similar to the scene after Princess Diana’s death in 1997, but it’s not.

These mourners knew the Queen was not immortal, but it was still a shock when the inevitable happened. It was born out of a feeling, and she has been there for us all her life,” Mark says. “Our Lioness Gone…But Her Spirit Remains’, read the wet, rain-soaked plastic around the bouquet.

“Mourning is what you pay for love”

The next day, London was transformed. The Queen herself still rests in her castle at Balmoral, but here in London the long-standing plans for Operation London Bridge are in motion: The most striking part of her scene on the streets is her signature illuminated. From theaters to hospitals, from train stations to long underground escalators, you’ll find the same portraits everywhere in imposing buildings, the Queen in her 80s staring at you with piercing eyes. It reads, “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, from 1926 she is 2022.” Nothing more, nothing less. More photos are available, including shops, hotels, burger joints…

Barking, East End London, 10th September

In the next few hours, the British hand out samples of their phlegm and discipline. It takes some getting used to for me. That silence. Whether it’s a crowd of tens of thousands outside Hyde Park or a throng of bargoers during “happy hour” in a pub, people fall silent in moments of respect and humility.

literal. They remain silent and listen to his 96 gunshots that break the silence. They remain silent, listening to the words of the new King Charles, who already shakes off his mother in Shakespeare’s words. Soundman Daan De Scheemaeker and I were impressed. Where does that discipline come from? Is it in the British gene? Is Elizabeth’s appearance truly incomprehensible, almost mythical, or just mass hysteria?

If she’s been there for us for 70 years, a 12-hour queue isn’t long, right?”

Cars carrying coffins can be seen crashing into Buckingham Palace on Tuesday night. This is where I realized it wasn’t vulgar voyeurism. “I wanted to have her here. I wanted her to come home to her,” Lisa said softly, but she was confident.

The way people mourn together is impressive. Lisa meets a city dweller she doesn’t know, but she clicks right away. This becomes even more apparent as mourners from all over the country settle on the south bank of the Thames.

On Wednesday morning, when you find them in tents or under cloaks and blankets, they still look like zombies after a cold, wet night. Sarah, Rob, Mo, Brian, … various people get to know each other and feel like pilgrims on their way to their final destination, Westminster Hall.

Gradually, the atmosphere changes, and the cheerfulness turns to gloomy. That “queuing” is the most memorable image of the whole journey for me. image of England. Here, Queen Elizabeth is reaping what she sowed through her lifelong commitment to holding her country together and instilling moral qualities in her subjects: her respect, humility and perseverance.

Left Bank of the Thames, 7:00am on 15th September

On previous trips to the UK, I have often encountered the country’s centrifugal force in recent years. Thank you Brexit supporters for their dissent and triumphant cheers when the UK actually left her EU on January 31, 2020. I also appreciate the arrogance and arrogance of many Remainers on social media. Here, on the banks of the Thames, suddenly stands a silent horde of decent and united citizens.

I posed critical questions to them about the opulence of the British monarchy, its colonial past, and the archaic remoteness of the monarchy. But they always have counterarguments. “The Queen lived frugally. She was a child of her time and didn’t run free from her golden cage. For 70 years she kept her promise to serve her people. Then I We may be there with gratitude. Standing in line. A few hours?”

King Charles Proclamation, St James's Palace, London, 10th September

“I was there in an unbearable moment”

Every Englishman I meet in Westminster, East End, Cardiff and Windsor tells me the same feeling. I am shocked. I am aware of a lot of the mourning that South Africans are wearing at the funeral of President Nelson Mandela.

And in Pretoria, in December 2013, tens of thousands of people lined up to say their last goodbyes to Madiba, the father of the nation. So they also said to me: When he got the honor of entering Westminster Hall just after Brian, Rob and Moe, Nelson was as moved as he was when he was allowed to step next to Mandela’s coffin. Someone is lying here too. Here too there is a “binder”, a unifier.

Of course, the setting is grand and spectacular. Of course, the appearance of the Hall of the Millennium, with its glittering crown jewels and coffins of shiny-clad bodyguards, is not visible in our time. they see through it.They see sadness on the bodyguard’s face and all bent over. I was just in the moment. He found what he was looking for. “The resting point of the spinning world” From TS Elliot’s Four Quartet. In the translation of my equally respected professor Herman Servotte, “At the motionless point of the revolving world. Flesh or without flesh. Body or not, at the motionless point there is dance.”

Windsor Castle, Long Walk, 19th September 11:30am

“May the pain of death fall from you”

that’s finished. Twice I saw a sea of ​​people gaping open in a passing coffin. I myself have walked past her coffin with a sea of ​​people. Of course, the conditions were spectacular, majestic, even old-fashioned. As usual, the tabloids went hunting for juicy details: Charles’ leaked pen, Harry and Meghan’s clasped hands, and Camilla’s tears.

But most Brits I spoke to saw through the pomp and royalty. At the big-screen funeral at Windsor Castle, the music of Purcell and Parry made it all complete. Here society paused for a moment on fundamental concepts such as civic consciousness, sacrifice, and even life and death. Maybe Bryan was right and the death of Queen Elizabeth II really was a “still point in a turning point”.

Source: vrt

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