Sunday, September 11, 2022
At the Palace
I took Olga down to Buckingham Palace yesterday to check out the scene. As expected, there were lots of people milling about...
...and many of them were laying floral tributes at the base of the trees in Green Park.
I saw one mother taking photos of her kids holding a bouquet. "OK, now let's lay them," she said. "This is a very special day that you must remember."
The crowds were manageable, at least at first, but we didn't get too close. Having the dog along, I didn't want to get trapped somewhere or be in too tight of a space.
So we looked at the flowers and took some photos, and Olga chased her tennis ball in the grassy expanse of the park. Then I got the bright idea for us to make our way down The Mall toward Piccadilly Circus, where I wanted to see the memorial to the Queen on the big Jumbotron.
Olga and I walked slowly to The Mall, two specks in a river of people flowing along a sidewalk between barriers in the park. We got there and found The Mall itself barricaded off -- so no walking in the street -- and the sidewalks were growing increasingly packed. We walked down a short distance before reaching a bottleneck that I just didn't think we could get through. So we turned around and made our way back out again.
I didn't immediately realize that these crowds were waiting for the King himself, who was due to emerge a few hours later from his accession ceremony at St. James Palace and drive to Buckingham along that route. If we'd stayed, maybe we'd have seen him, but there was no way I could have lingered there amid the steadily growing hordes with the dog. We saw a red-jacketed marching band in bearskin hats, but that was all.
Olga was pretty mellow through all of this, though I'm sure she was confused. She got lots of pats and positive attention.
We slowly made our way back to the park, and walked up Piccadilly toward the Circus. Some shops had tributes to the Queen in the windows.
Fortnum & Mason, which usually has very colorful windows, blacked out its displays entirely. "As a mark of our respect for the extraordinary life and reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our windows will be covered until further notice," a message read.
It turns out the Queen is no longer on the Jumbotron at Piccadilly Circus -- how quickly our culture moves on! We walked up Regent Street and then Bond Street to the tube, and along the way took note of other memorials.
Somehow I can't see Elizabeth in any of those dresses or shoes, even as a younger woman.
Anyway, it was an interesting morning out, and we were back home again by noon. The King didn't show up at Buckingham until around that time, so it's a good thing we didn't try to wait and see him!