checked home progress, royal wedding

Went over to check renovation progress, the electrician finished drilling so we’re allowed back. All the places for the wires have been drilled and prepped. Today they’re also replacing all the windows. When we walked into the car park, the old metal windows were there waiting to be collected–our watchman will take them and we’re happy for him to sell and get a little money for it.

globewedding05food

Mum went shopping and I met sis late afternoon in the British pub to watch the royal wedding. All the tables were booked but I managed to grab a couple of stools at the bar (someone conveniently finished and left just as I was about to go elsewhere). The place wasn’t crowded at first but it got really really crowded and loud very soon. Our seats were pretty nice, with a good view of the tv screens on the wall. They even had a special Harry & Meghan menu including Pimm’s! I tried both the regular Pimm’s cup and the Pimm’s spritzer, then switched to diet coke. Had dinner there too, I had scotch egg (as befitting the occasion) and sis had fish & chips.

The wedding was really nice, although we couldn’t hear too much due to the noise at the pub. People tried to shush whenever the Archibishop of Canterbury, Harry, Meghan, or someone else was speaking. Even though later I read about how “everyone” loved the address by Rev Michael Curry, at the time people at the pub thought he went on and on for way too long. His way of preaching also seemed out of place. I think Americans love his sermon because he was lively and passionate and presented it in the typical loud American way. Brits heard his message, but personally I wish he could have been more restrained, to match the location. And made it shorter, because it felt like he was hogging the limelight and stealing attention from the royal couple.

I walked home and caught the bit when they were in the procession back to Windor Castle. Very happy about the wedding, very proud and delighted for the couple. Remember the sad and lost 12-yaer old prince walking with his mother’s casket? Princess Diana would have been so proud of her son; and I can just imagine her sitting with Doria Ragland and crying tears of joy together.

london bridge has fallen

London Bridge Roundel
photo credit: flickr user diorama_sky, under CC

I can even fathom, but one of these days the Queen will pass away. Spent a few minutes (more like 20, it’s a long read) reading the Guardian’s article about Operation London Bridge, or the top secret plans for the few days after the Queen’s death. The extension plans cover both the Queen’s death and Charles’ ascension and have been in place since the 1960s. The group of people involved (government departments, the police, the army, Palace staff, the media) meets regularly to update the plans and there are rehearsals for all manner of eventualities.

The middle of the article talks about Britain’s decling power compared with when Queen Victoria died. Then, we had the Empire. Now, there’s Brexit. But the Empire is gone, it’s nothing to be ashamed about; the world changes and evolves. Britain will still mourn the death of our monarch with dignity and it will be done with full-on British precision and ceremony. Extensive procedures will be followed, every detail, from the thickness of the cloth covering the bell of Big Ben that will ring the start to the Queen’s funeral to stockpiling of condolence books in all corners of the country, are in the playbook. The Prime Minister will be informed, Parliament will be recalled. TV and radio programs will stop and networks will merge with the announcement. The BBC, other channels as well as newspapers and magazines will have material already prepared.

The royal standard will appear on the screen. The national anthem will play. You will remember where you were.

And it being a completely modern world, the news will spread very, very quickly. It took hours before George VI’s death was announced; the press who were in Paris with Robin Cook who was travelling with Princess Diana knew within 15mins. Now, it’s as fast as data is carried over the internet.

There will be a profound outpouring of grief. Some observers predict an increase in patriotic feelings.

People who are not expecting to cry will cry.

I don’t cry a lot and I was close to tears just reading this.

long to reign over us

queen2015
image: getty

Today, the Queen becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history, overtaking Queen Victoria’s 63 years, seven months and two days. It’s both a sad and happy day, as it marks the day she lost her father, George VI. Lots of commemorations and celebrations in the news. The bbc has a wonderful series of pictures from each year of her reign. The Telegraph has this video that transforms her from when she was 25 years old to now, at 89:

Even the stoic Independent is full of praise for her, recognising her dedication, sense of duty and the rock on which the country has built on for 63 years. How many 21 year old princesses would say this:

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family, to which we all belong

She’s the only Queen I’ve known. There’s an unspoken sense of awe, respect and…love for her that isn’t there for the other members of the Royal Family. It’s like it’s baked into our core. Even the people who want to scrap the monarchy have to admit that she has been a great queen, seeing the country transition from the glory days of the Empire through devastation following WW2 and then to the modern age.

Of course we can’t hope for another 63 years, but we’ll take as many as we can while she is with us.

sing, diamond jubilee

I’ve been catching up on the jubilee festivities. The pageant on Saturday was a bit boring to watch on iPlayer, but I watched the jubilee concert on Sunday in its entirety. Super production, very moving, all the performers, comedians and 600 support staff. Shows the world how it’s done, and I think I’m like a lot of people trying to avoid saying something like “Gary Barlow did a good job, take that!”

This is Sing, written by Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Weber and performed by the Commonwealth band/choir and the Military Wives. All (?definitely most) of the performers are not professionals, but their voices are simply magical. Beautiful song, beautiful performance.

god save the queen

I wasn’t technically born British (slight complication with it being a British territory and not part of the UK proper) and didn’t acquire full citizenship till I was in my teens, but I’ve only known one Queen and she is celebrating her diamond jubilee. Setting aside the union jack plates, buntings and fairy liquids for sale, there is a real sense of pride and patriotism for someone who was never born to rule, but has done so with such dignity and poise for 60 years. God Save the Queen!

#proudtobebritish

ldnrw02couple

This was the moment when the royal couple stepped out from Westminster Abbey. Confetti showered us at Hyde Park as we watched on the big screen. Yes, I woke up early enough to make my way there, got there at 9.30am, bought a roast pork bap for breakfast and found a spot with a view to one of the screens. It was moving, watching as the guests arrive at the abbey, the wedding parties departing from Clarence House and Buckingham Palace, the extended royal family in the very non-traditional minibuses and of course the bride and groom themselves. A big cheer when Kate stepped out into the waiting car and the world saw her dress for the first time.

Impeccable service, we belted out Jerusalem and God Save the Queen, or at least most of the 100,000+ crowd did. There were union jacks galore and a cheer for the royal couple and the Queen every time they appeared on screen. Kate’s dress was perfect, in fact all the guests’ suits and dresses were amazing.

It was at the moment when they were in the state landau making their dignified way back to Buckingham Palace, and accompanied by all the guards in their full regalia, that I realised, for the first time since I moved back, how glad I was to be in London. I didn’t stay after the service ended, walked up Edgware Road (which was very, very quiet), quickly went to Tesco, hopped on a bus and was home in time to see the royal kisses. Watching the crowd march with such calmness up the Mall to fill up the space outside Buckingham Palace, or learning that the bells of the abbey were to ring for a full 3 hrs, I was a little regretful that I didn’t go to St James’ Park or Trafalgar Square instead, but oh well.

One of the top trending topics today on twitter is #proudtobebritish. I’m naturalised, but that’s not unusual; it’s not such a big deal here. Today is William and Kate’s day, the Royal Family’s day and Britain’s day. It is a day to say to the world that I’m proud to be British.

thanks for the free day off

royalplate

Everyone is gearing up for the royal wedding on Friday. While it’s true that much of the frenzy is probably whipped up by the media, no one I know here in the UK is complaining because this will be our second consecutive four day weekend. So, may as well show our appreciation by joining in the festivities. I’m still undecided, if the weather is okay, I might brave the 200,000 crazies expected at Hyde Park.