VFrom England to Northern Ireland, from Scotland to Wales: Across Great Britain, people united around their Queen on Monday Elizabeth II mourned. Public life came to a virtual standstill nationwide during the funeral service, and as a precaution the day had been declared a public holiday anyway.
The ceremony in London’s Westminster Abbey and the subsequent solemn procession were shown live on the big screen in 125 cinemas in the United Kingdom, with millions of people sitting in front of the television at home. Britons gathered in their living rooms, in pubs and community centers and in front of big screens in places like Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park or London’s Hyde Park to watch the celebrations.
“She was an absolute rock,” bus driver Simon Freedman said of the Queen at an event at Belfast City Hall. The Queen has representatives from all parties in Northern Ireland and met in Ireland – and not just unionists loyal to the king. “She was there for everyone and everyone,” Freedman says.
Teacher Anna-Marie Pawson takes a similar view. The death of the Queen has brought people closer together in grief, she says: “There is nothing that brings people together like this, no politician or whatever,” she is convinced.
“A Big Shock”
In Scotland Thousands gathered in front of the official royal residence, Holyroodhouse Palace, where the Queen’s coffin was initially taken after her death a week and a half ago. And on the deck of the royal yacht Britannia, anchored off the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, a bagpiper played a dirge.
In the Lion Pub in Treorchy, Wales, where the then heir to the throne and Prince of Wales Charles drank a pint of beer during a visit in July, the guests also sat in front of the television. “We’re open today because this is a place where people not only come together on good days, but also when we all need to come together as a community,” said pub owner Adrian Emmett.
“We all knew this day had to come, but it was still a huge shock when it happened,” he says of the Queen’s death.
Neale Farr from the southern English county of Kent drove to London on the day of the funeral to follow the funeral procession on The Mall. He also appreciates the Queen’s unifying role: “I appreciate what the Queen has done for the Commonwealth and for the country,” says the 56-year-old. “She always did the right thing, gave everything, right up until her last days.”