The Death of Queen Elizabeth II: UK Reactions


Mrs. Evelyn

Queen Elizabeth II’s casket, draped with the Royal Standard, is visible in this video screenshot.

Lucia Viloria, Reporter

What do the people of the UK have to say about this change in their country’s government? Lucía interviewed MODG students Thomas Leahy (11th/12th, Herefordshire, England), and Vidya and Vibha Thomas (12th and 10th, Worcestershire, England) to find out:

In what areas does the death of the queen affect daily life in England? How are people mourning?

Thomas: The Crown, and I think especially HM [Her Majesty] the Queen, touched the life of every Briton and British town in both a mundane, practical way but also as part of the “Deep Magic” of the British nation which Peter Hitchens talked of. On a practical level, there’s not a settlement of any great size up and down the land which does not contain some plaque commemorating a Royal visit or function, (Hereford for example was graced with a visit from HM in 2012 to dedicate the restored West End of the Cathedral). Every coin, postbox, stamp bore her image, every public official, from pen-pusher to soldier, swore an oath of loyalty to the Queen. That was one of the great successes of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, she was able to act as both a sovereign and a sort of national grandmother, without detracting one from another. It was partially with this affection to a wise elderly relative that the public in Britain, the loyal Realms and the Commonwealth at large produced so profound a response. Britons are by no means naturally disposed to public displays of grief and emotion, but over the period of mourning they abounded. Yet there was a far more deep-rooted element to the mourning. I mentioned the deep magic of the British Isles before, and I really think these events tapped into it. The Queue was a prime example of this. It sounds rather comical to say it, but the idea of the queue strikes at a chord in the Briton’s subconscious; ideals of fair play, courteousness and common-mindedness. These were elements no Brit has ever made a fuss about, and in recent times some seem set against the remembrance and maintenance of the national genius, but Her Majesty’s death showed just how strong these feelings really are; and they’re here to stay.

Vidya & Vibha: The death of the Queen probably had an impact on most people, in one way or another, and although not everyone had a personal connection with her it’s sad to see the outstanding and long reign of a monarch so great come to an end. It seems that those who have felt the loss of the Queen the most are probably the elderly people, and the Queen had personal connections with a lot of her personal and palace staff, and supported them in many different ways. The areas that had the most impact would probably be London as it was pretty much blocked, and the immediate tube stations in central London were shut down for the day. There were huge crowds, and lines many miles long along the roads during the funeral and the 10-days period of mourning that took place right after the Queen’s death. Many organisations and others of the kind also closed down on the day of the funeral as an act of respect.

What are some local traditions to mourn the death of the monarch and celebrate the beginning of a new sovereign’s rule?

Thomas: Up and down the country, there have been events, both official and personally organised, which have shown just how important this all is. The Anglican cathedral of the Diocese of Hereford had a remembrance service and performances by the choir, people gathered in their associations or groups of friends to remember the passing of a monarch who had defined Britain for nearly three-quarters of a century. In our own Catholic community the local Benedictine abbey held requiem masses and remembrance services. Flags flew at half-mast across the land and around the world, from Buckingham Palace and Hereford Cathedral, even to the flag in our neighbour’s back garden Everywhere, in the abbey, cathedral, town hall, even online, were books of remembrance. Many, myself included, felt compelled to send some final message to Her Majesty, and as recognition of the new King. A small village near where we live, called Fownhope, holds an annual festival in honour of Royal Oak, or Restoration Day, when King Charles II was restored to the throne after the republican dictatorship and interegnum. I hope that in the future this annual event will take on an even greater significance in this, the third Carolean Era.

Vidya & Vibha: There was a National mourning period following the death of the Queen after which the state funeral service took place at Westminster Abbey. During this period, before the funeral, many many people stood in very long lines to pay their last respects to the Queen during her “Lying-in-State” in Westminster Hall which lasted from the 14th to the 19th of September. Two minutes of nation-wide silence commenced on the day of the funeral wherein the whole nation in unity paid respect to the Queen. Also, flags were half-masted, and many services took place in her commemoration throughout England.

King Charles officially became King on the day that the Queen died, September 8th, and the accession council, the official proclamation, was held on the 10th of September. However, his coronation will only take place after a set date by which the mourning period for the Queen is over.

What are some of your hopes for the reign of Charles III?

Thomas: During his years as Prince of Wales, King Charles was renowned for his hard work and dedication, often starting work in the early hours of the morning, skipping lunch and working well into the evenings after supper. I am confident that he will maintain this ethic of hardwork and sacrifice, passed down from his breeding and up-bringing. As King, Charles will no longer be able to make public statements on those matters which interest him. However, he is a man of many interests and considerable force, so I hope we will see continued and strengthened recognition for local arts & crafts, organic agriculture and the farming community, causes all very dear to His Majesty’s heart. Nevertheless, it should be be remembered that the most important role of the monarch is found not in what he changes, but what he maintains. This is not some political or popular system, where the next to hold office must bring out with the old and in with the new, aiming to discredit his predecessor and destroy any legacy. Rather it is about the maintenance of a system, a symbol, a culture based on over a thousand years of tradition, the heritage of the Christian order and the blessing of the Almighty Himself. The Crown must win, must always win.


For more in this series, check out “The Death of Queen Elizabeth II: An Overview” and “The Death of Queen Elizabeth II: US Reactions”.