Almost as if to wish me off, Queen Elizabeth II came to visit today. OK, she came to the nearby Larkhill artillery school, which is now being redesignated the Royal Artillery Barracks. A bunch of school kids were invited to witness the opening, and our youngest’s son’s class went. So why not — let’s take the morning to see the Queen!
I took both a digital camera and a digital movie camera — and had left the memory cards out of them by accident. Sigh. So everything I shot was off my cell phone. Still, it’ll give you an idea of the morning.
First, it’s important that the imported crowds all have Union Flags, so they were handed out:
Those are Union Flags, by the way — not Union Jacks. Union Jacks look just like Union Flags except the fly off a ship. And flags fly at half-staff, by the way — only half-mast if they’re flying that way on a ship. It’s a copy editing thing, sorry. Once you memorize the AP style guide, it’s hard to let go.
Aside from a bunch of school kids, the crowds (about 500 or so) were mostly locals, people from the army housing that’s on the base. And the center of all the activity was this:
Can’t see it. Hey, my phone can’t zoom. But I can crop:
See that white stone sign? See the blue covering over it? That’s what we were waiting for her to unveil.
The Queen came by helicopter, landing behind trees from where the crowd was. After she landed, there was a 21 gun salute:
Her car (which someone had driven out from London without her), was there to take her from the helicopter and along the road in front of us, to do the opening. My best shot – video of her driving by:
It’s the second time I’ve been that close to her. The first was when I first came to England about 20 years ago. I’d come out of the tube station at Westminster not realizing it was the annual state opening of Parliament. A few minutes later, she was going past me on the street but in a carriage.
After she parked, the band played God Save The Queen. I always laugh at the common joke that when the Queen hears the song, does she sing God Save Me?
Actually, it was remarkable to me how practically no one broke into singing. OK, the band was well removed from us. But we could hear the music, and if this was in the US, I’m pretty sure people would have been singing The Star Spangled Banner. And if we were in Wales, I’m pretty sure people would have starting singing Land Of My Fathers.
Side note on God Save The Queen. For Americans who on the off chance have never heard it, it’s the same music as My Country ‘Tis Of Thee. And I’d always assumed until I wrote this that someone in the US just changed the words of the British national anthem. Wikipedia says no. As for the Star Spangled Banner, I’ve always preferred America The Beautiful myself. Apparently, I‘m not alone.
Back to the Queen, the drive-by was the closest we got to her. She did the opening:
And away she went. No walkabout, much to the disappointment of many in the crowd. But they consoled themselves saying she is very old.