‘Thank you, madam’: a singular queen, mourned by her people

‘Thank you, madam’: a singular queen, mourned by her people

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London –

In the afternoon, the scent of thousands of lilies and roses permeated the air outside Buckingham Palace. But the pilgrims kept coming, bringing more bouquets and love notes to the only queen he knew.

The scene outside the iron doors was exactly what Nick French had expected. But when he left a London hospital on Friday, 10 days after prostate cancer surgery, still shaking, there was no doubt he would join them. Taking a one-hour stroll around town, French visited seven flower shops, most of them sold out, until their arms filled with crimson and cream, pink and purple flowers.

“I felt the need to come here,” said the 50-year-old social worker, who was behind the police barricade in neighboring Kent. True, II., Born with members of the royal family and attached to duties. Elizabeth lived in palaces and splendor. But under the queen’s decades of constant tutelage, French said, the common man found inspiration and a kindred spirit.

Elizabeth’s life “gives me hope because the queen has always been an incredibly charitable and good person, even in the face of great adversity,” she said, “which gives me a model for trying to move forward in my life.” “Post cancer”.

The day after the death of Britain’s longest-lived monarch, at the age of 96, French tributes resonated with the crowds gathered at Buckingham Palace, and the palace presided over Monument Square.

The participants were obviously the chosen ones: people who took care of the queen and came to show their love. But the pilgrimage was not only remarkable for its size; It was also noteworthy that visitors highlighted the roles the monarch claimed to have played in the lives of people they had never met.

“You have inspired younger generations like me to serve a great nation that has flourished under your leadership,” said a purple marker on the left side of the door.

“Goodbye darling” read another, added to a bouquet of yellow roses. “Thank you madam … for being a beacon of hope and stability in a difficult time.”

And another: “Thank you for everything you have collaborated with. For your sense of duty, care, compassion and love for us and for your people ”.

Flowers and sweet notes fell 25 years ago in London, where the Queen’s ex-wife, Princess Diana, died in a car accident. Paris. Then people expressed their pain in public in a way that wasn’t entirely different.

For David Hunt, 67, retired from the British Library, the queen was a symbol of a bygone era and her death was a reminder of how much he had changed since his early childhood reign. Claire McDaniel, 48, said she arrived when she finished working at a skincare store to stay loyal to the monarch, who felt almost like a grandmother.

“During the pandemic, she went on TV and said, ‘It’s bad but it’s going to get better. We will meet again and meet again. ‘ And I think that’s exactly what we needed as a country, ”McDaniel said.

Not far away, classmates Adam Al-Mafti and Oliver Hughes, 16 and in school uniform, said they had come to Buckingham Palace to witness a chapter in history. But there was something else.

“He represented us all,” Al-Mufti said, admitting that the young student and the ruler are unlikely to bond. “He was very confused.”

French, who came to the palace after undergoing an MRI to check if his cancer had come out with recent surgery, said his love for Elizabeth started when he was a child, but has grown stronger in recent years. .

Following the death of the Frenchman’s father in 2019, she said she found solace in the queen’s grace and strength at the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip. As she grew up and her health deteriorated, her determination to enjoy the places and things she loved, while still retaining her role as her queen, inspired her, she said.

When she arrived at Buckingham Palace on Friday, she arranged four small bouquets of flowers into a sumptuous bouquet, which she held together with a headband given to her by another fan in the crowd. She at the barricade she gave them to a police officer who promised to find a good spot at the foot of the palace gate.

It offered little consolation. But retail worker McDaniel said the grief over Elizabeth’s loss will be hard to hide in the coming weeks. After all, the Queen’s face and name are everywhere: on British money and postage stamps, at Heathrow Airport and on the last line of the London Underground.

“It’s going to be tough, but we’ll make it,” McDaniel said. “This is what we do. We are British. We will have tea and continue “.


Adam Geller is an Associated Press national writer assigned to London to cover the Queen’s death. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/adgeller.

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Source: Washington Post