LONDON: Hundreds of thousands of mourners took to the streets of London on Monday to honor and bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, whose seven-decade reign meant she had been a constant throughout the life of the most people in the UK.
His funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey, where members of the British Royal Family were joined by heads of state, politicians and other VIPs. Later, she was buried at Windsor Castle.
Some of the people who gathered in the streets to watch her funeral procession pass by and pay their last respects as the Queen made her final journey, shared with Arab News their own personal tributes, as well as their thoughts on her successor, the King. Charles III and the future of the monarchy.
“In my opinion, there will never be another monarch like the Queen because she was there for, I think, everyone’s life because she served for so long. I think she will be missed by everyone,” said Craig Bell, a retired British Army officer who served in the Scots Guards.
He had come with colleagues to pay their respects and was amazed at how many people turned out for the historic event, which he said showed how important the Queen was to the British people.
Bell, who was a drum major in his regiment and now works as a prison officer, said he had met the Queen four times while serving in the army and talking to her “was like talking to your grandfather. mother”.
She had a good understanding of people, he added, and was “really, really down to earth. She loved soldiers – all her life she had lots and lots of time for people. I will miss her very much.
Looking to the future, he said: “Britain and the monarchy have become more diverse, so I think going forward it’s probably going to be very different going forward.”
Val Floyd, whose journey with a friend to London from Cornwall in south-west England took nearly six hours, was just two years old when the Queen took the throne. She said she wanted to be part of the pomp and circumstance of the funeral and experience the atmosphere.
“She was like a mother figure and kept the whole country stable,” she said. “That’s how I feel about her and I just wanted to be here to feel the atmosphere, which was electrifying; it was fantastic.
“I hope the new king will be almost as good as the old queen. She was fantastic (and) I just think he’s done such a great job so far, because losing your mom and dealing with everything he’s been through was amazing, so I hope he will make a good king.”
Farzana Khan, who was born and raised in London but whose family is of Pakistani descent, said she had taken part in many commemorative events which took place during the official 10-day period of mourning following the death of the queen on September 8.
“She’s been so constant in our lives,” she said. “She’s a fantastic role model and we’ve had a female reign in our country for so long, so I felt compelled (to come) and brought my kids and friends to say goodbye to her and let everyone know. the family, like well, that we are here to support them for the future.
Khan described the Queen as a calm and humble person, but said King Charles had “a bit of a personality, serious issues that he was interested in, like the environment”. She is optimistic and has “positive vibes” about his reign, despite taking the throne at the relatively advanced age of 73, she added.
Rose Afshar, from Malaysia but who has lived in the UK for many years, said she waited in line for nine hours to pay her respects when the Queen lay in state at Westminster Hall, and waited another five hours to see the coffin as it passed through the streets of the capital.
“It was beautiful, the place, the atmosphere, and I’m so grateful that we made it in and said our prayers for her,” she said. “I am also grateful to her for making this country a very stable and prosperous country, since she (became) queen until now.
“Furthermore, the policies of his governments have made it possible for those of us who were not born British, nor English, to be able to study here, settle here and earn a good income in this country.”
Afshar said when she was 10, her grandmother, who was a royalist, showed her a picture of the Queen and she was mesmerized by her beauty and the huge, glittering, diamond-covered crown she wore . She said she asked if she could go to England one day and her grandmother replied that the only way to get there was if she studied really hard.
“I think deep down it made me study really hard and eventually, when I was 16 or 17, I got a scholarship, I came to England, I did my baccalaureate. , I went to college and then moved here – so in a way she (the queen) was an inspiration to a lot of us girls,” Afshar said. .
Burcu Salman, who moved from Istanbul to London two months ago, wanted to be part of such a special and historic moment.
“Many people came from all over the world (and) we are lucky to witness these moments,” Salman said. “I will never forget this day. Rest in peace Queen Elizabeth.