It was a rainy day in London today with sudden bursts of sunshine.
I was working from home when my colleague informed us that the Queen was gravely ill. I turned on the TV and realised that the BBC had stopped broadcasting its usual programs and was now continuously covering the story.
It started as a day like any other. A normal day. A slow inevitable end to an unusually hot summer.
Who knew this day would become a point in history? I didn’t.
Our son had a parents’ evening to help us navigate year 11 – the final GCSE year. We went and listened dutifully.
I took notes and used my phone to take pictures of the powerpoint presentation slides. My husband watched and listened to what was expected of our boy this year.
By the time the event finished, Queen Elizabeth II had died.
It was the strangest feeling. A sense of loss that I really wasn’t expecting. Like the world had suddenly shifted and changed while I wasn’t paying attention.
It was odd.
“Why am I feeling sad?” I ask my husband as I take off my boots back at our flat.
“She’s your Queen. Of course you’d feel sad,” he says.
“She is an incredible woman. I respect her. I admire her. But I don’t think she’s my Queen.”
“She’s the Queen of Australia. She’s your Queen. You may hate the idea, but it’s fact.”
I resist the urge to throw my boot at him.
After dinner, my husband asks if we’d like to go to Buckingham Palace tonight.
Our son says he needs to shower and have an early night as it’s a school day tomorrow.
I’m tired. It’s a dark and drizzly night. I am tempted to stay home, but I decide to follow my husband.
An era ended tonight. And I wanted to pay my respects to an extraordinary woman.
“You’re grieving,” remarked my husband at the tube station.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not a monarchist. I’ve only been in this country three years. And she’s not part of my ethnic heritage,” I shoot back. But there was an uncomfortable lump in my throat.
“That last bit is silly. You can grieve someone who isn’t part of your heritage.”
He’s right. But I’m too proud to tell him.
We make our way to St James Park station. As we leave I see a young east asian man in a white shirt and black trousers ask a policeman for directions. He has white roses in his hand.
My husband and I head through the left exit out into the dark and wet London street. We walk a few minutes and there before us is Buckingham Palace.
It’s late. But there are a lot of people still milling about. I hear Vietnamese, French, Japanese and Spanish voices in the crowd. On one side of the mall are a line of buses from TV stations. It feels like the world is watching.
For the amount of people there, it felt quiet. Sombre.
We take some photos and leave.
I wish I came with some flowers to lay at the gate.