Carry on
The city of London reflects on the end of an era and looks into the next
A mother walked hand in hand with her child through a breathtaking display of flowers in Green Park. Decades-old trees shaded the fenced-in grassy area in central London and provided a sound barrier from the nearby bustling roads. The temporary barriers caged in an organized explosion of gifts and tributes as citizens from young to old maneuvered through the thin paths of grassy mud, strolling slowly and calmy honoring the life-long service of only
one woman.
"Do you remember who this is for?" the mother asked.
A long pause.
"…the queen?"
"That's right, good! And what happened to her?"
"She died."
A mourner prepares to board the London Underground Jubilee Line at Baker Street Station on Friday, September 16. About a quarter of a million people came to Queen Elizabeth II's coffin as she lay in state for four days at Westminster Hall before her funeral on Monday, September 19.
From the moment the world learned of the death of Queen Elizabeth II on the evening of September 8, 2022, to the funeral held at Westminster Abbey on September 19, 2022, could be described as a fever dream. The city of London was still simmering with activity as it always has, but a blanket of calm and quiet sadness cloaked the streets. Citizens dressed in black and adorned in medals representing their service waited in the queue zig-zagging along the banks of the Thames to see the casket of their queen and to pay their respects to the monarch who dedicated 70 years of her life to her people. Around every street corner, people carried colorful bouquets with a sullen determination to honor their queen's passing at the floral tribute in Green Park. The police opened a space there where people piled a staggering display of thousands of flowers, gifts, thank you letters sealed or scrawled on a face mask, jars of honey, and even of stuffed animals.
In the eleven days following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, hundreds flooded the streets of London in mourning, carrying colorful bouquets and condolence letters for the British royal family. Layers of flowers coat the ground at the floral tribute set up in The Green Park, a five-minute walk from the gates of Buckingham Palace on Thursday, September 15.
Mourners quietly made their way along the paths in The Green Park, stopping to read letters on display or to lay their own gifts with the rest.
Despite Green Park having a designated area where citizens would lay their gifts for the late Queen, tons of bouquets ended up surrounding trees in different areas of the park. Caretakers collected the offerings into a large truck and transported them to the main tribute in effort to keep the park clean.
What could be the most beautiful display of respect for the passed matriarch was the sense of unity that was visible all around. Volunteers in neon vests waited at the entrance of the floral tribute at Green Park unwrapping the plastic from thousands of bouquets to reduce the litter and trash in the area; they also kept spirits high by cheering on the people who had been waiting in line for hours on as they inched closer and closer to see the queen. The police patrolled the outside of Westminster Abbey, keeping the streets clear and guiding the hordes of visitors if anyone asked for help. As people waited eight-plus hours in a line stretching from Southwark Park along the river to pay their respects to the Queen herself, they chatted with their neighbors, sharing blankets and chatting to keep each other awake as many waited overnight. And, as mourners left the abbey with tears in their eyes, they comforted each other as they walked over Westminster Bridge, and into a new era.
Julia Finder waited in "the queue" overnight and still had hours to go. After joining the line around midnight on Thursday, September 15 to pay her respects to Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall. Finder shuffled with the nearly ever-growing ribbon of mourners along the Thames, facing the cold winds sweeping off the river for nearly 8 hours. "It's my queen," said Finder. "I would have even waited 12, 15 hours."
People line up against the barriers along the edge of Parliament Square Garden keeping a close eye on the media crowding around the exit where civilians exited the abbey after seeing the queen. The media waited for David Beckham, who stood in the queue with the other citizens; many political figures and celebrities paid to stand in the VIP line which was shorter.
Royal guards line up outside Westminster Hall to take their shift standing vigil over the late queen's casket on Saturday, September 17. Queen Elizabeth II's death shook Britain, including her own security. A royal guard fainted while protecting the late monarch's coffin.
A mourner sheds tears as she exits Westminster Hall after a few moments with the late queen's casket, on Friday, September 16.
A crowd completes a somber march heading eastbound on Westminster Bridge in London, after paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth, who died September 8, 2022 at Balmoral Castle. Mourners waited in "the queue" in the cold wind off the water for as long as 8 hours for a chance to pay their respects.
And underlying this layer of quiet sadness was a hum of interest in what the new king would bring to the nation. Hundreds gathered outside of Buckingham Palace, to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned King as he headed out of Buckingham Palace to pay respects alongside his siblings to their mother. Parents hoisted their children onto their shoulders and pushed against barriers to just sneak a peek at their new reigning monarch.
A crowd pushes the barriers as a bus crawls through the front gates of Buckingham Palace on Friday, September 16. Eager onlookers strained to peek through the tinted windows to identify the passengers.
The crowd outside of Buckingham Palace gets pushed back by security to make way for King Charles III. Parents and guardians keep a steel grip on their children's coat collars while pushing forward against the wall of spectators in hopes of helping them catch their first glimpse of the newly crowned king.
As the gates of the palace opened and police lights from motorbikes flashed the crowd in blue light, cheers and screams rose as the pressure of the crowd condensed. "Here he comes!" A black car adorned with the union jack flags passed as a single, old man in a military uniform waved with a gloved hand through the glass. The cheers left as quickly as they started, but the sadness weighing across London changed to an excited hum, an interest in what the future has in store for the nation. Just like that, Britain continues to carry on.
The newly crowned King Charles III swoops by on a trip to stand vigil over his mother Queen Elizabeth II's casket. The sadness weighing across London changed to an excited hum, as an interest in what the future has in store for the nation settled in.