Tributes to HM The Queen
Introduction by Fraser Raleigh
London will never see anything quite like it ever again.
Each nation took centre stage over the past ten days, but it was London that served as the fulcrum of national mourning as years of meticulous planning clicked into gear and Operation London Bridge became a reality.
Historic moments handed themselves off to the next seamlessly and relentlessly. The arrival of the new King at Buckingham Palace to greet the public for the first time as sovereign. The Accession Council at St James’s Palace - televised for the first time in history – proclaiming him King. Parliament sitting over the weekend for just the third time in a quarter of a century. Westminster Hall taking centre stage as hundreds of thousands snaked along the Thames and through three London Boroughs, waiting to pay their respects.
All ending with the first State Funeral in generations and sights and sounds not heard in the capital for centuries, with Westminster Abbey the setting for a monarch’s funeral for the first time since 1760.
London will play its role again, first with the Coronation of King Charles III and – inevitably – for royal weddings and funerals to come.
But never again will it – or we - see anything quite like this.
Read on to hear from some of our SEC Newgate colleagues across the country, as they recount how Queen Elizabeth II has been remembered outside of London.
Wales and the South West (Robyn Evans)
People across South West England have been paying their respects over the past week, with towns and cities in the region screening yesterday’s state funeral in cathedrals, churches, and public spaces, so all generations could honour the Queen and her life, together as communities.
In Wales, people were able to offer personal condolences and greet King Charles as he visited the country for the first time as monarch on the final stop of his UK nations tour. King Charles, who as the longest-serving Prince of Wales holds a particular connection to the country, delivered a bilingual address at a remembrance event in the Welsh Parliament, saying Wales held a “special place” in the Queen’s heart.
The use of Welsh in the King’s speech is a significant and historic step for a British monarch, and amidst ongoing public debate on the need for a Prince of Wales title, will be seen by many as a mark of respect for Welsh culture. Similarly, the four nations tour was a recognition of the place that the devolved Parliaments and governments have in the UK constitution, giving communities across the UK the opportunity to pay tribute to the Queen’s remarkable lifelong service and mark this significant moment in our civic life.
West Midlands (Ian Silvera)
Despite a last-minute drenching, Coventrians came out in force to watch the Queen’s funeral procession. The location of the city’s big screen was particularly poignant. Placed in University Square, onlookers stood and sat between the new and old cathedrals of Coventry. As an automotive and industrial hotspot, the Luftwaffe reigned terror on the city – a perfect place for making war machines – during the Second World War. Only a few streets survived Hitler’s firebombs, and the old cathedral was one of the many victims. A reconstructed city centre was built, with the late Queen attending both the old cathedral and new shopping precinct in 1948. She was later the star guest, as head of the Church of England, at the new cathedral’s consecration service in 1962. It was on those steps, in-between the old, the new and the future lights of the university, that people witnessed the New Elizabethan Era pass into history.
North West (Mike Hannon)
The north of England is perhaps the only part of the UK where the Royal Family don’t own a home or spend much time regularly. And yet, the sadness hung heavy in the air yesterday. On the day of HM The Queen’s death, I happened to be at the gym. Unusual for me but not nearly as significant as the surreal image of Huw Edwards in black tie gravely announcing the news we were all expecting. The feeling that such a historic moment was happening as we all gathered around the wall-mounted televisions to stare in sombre silence. Although she might not have lived among us as she did in Windsor or Royal Deeside, there was so much respect for her. The shops with their shutters down and people in pubs, gathered around televisions in that same sombre silence, were testament to that.