Today the Queen paid our little town a visit.
She’s linked with the really old school here, which is celebrating it’s 475th anniversary this year.So she came to wish them Happy Birthday. (Probably just pleased something’s been around longer than her! That’s right, I went there…)
It’s been all over the local news for weeks – mass road closures, optional school day for kids, etc, etc. There have been a handful of grumps about the whole affair, but on the whole, people have been very excited about the royal visit.
Due to the road closures and the mania that was promised by the local press, I decided to work from home today. I’m not anti-royal but I wouldn’t consider myself pro-royals either. I’m sort of apathetic.
For the Queen’s Golden Jubilee back in 2002, I actually sang in the choir in the parade with my drama school – but that wasn’t for the love of the Queen. I just enjoyed singing! For the Royal Wedding back in 2011, my University housemates and I took a break from finals revision, made tea and scones and sat and watched it all in our living room, grateful of the extra bank holiday and an extra excuse for a party.
I’ve never really been to a street party, or made a trip out to see the Royals at an event of anything. Truth be told, half the time I actually feel sorry for them having to live a life they didn’t choose – apart from K Middy, obv. – in the public eye, under constant scrutiny, and facing incessant criticism. I wrote a post last year the day Kate went into labour about how everyone should leave them in peace, poor souls.
It didn’t occur to me to keep Little Miss off nursery this morning. Partly because it’s a work day and partly because she’s two and has no clue what’s going on or who the Queen is. But when I dropped Little Miss off at nursery, they asked if I could sign a permission slip to go on a field trip into town to see the Queen.
But by about 10:30am curiosity got the better of me. My colleagues tell me off daily for not taking a screen break most days, so today I did and I popped to the end of the road to see if I could see anything.
Not far down the high street and the road closures began. People were literally lining the streets, three or four people deep. There were children everywhere waiting patiently and eagerly for a glimpse of Her Majesty. People of all ages had flags, banners, daft Union Jack hats (and almost everyone was holding a mobile phone, poised and ready). The houses and shops were all decorated to the nines with Union Jacks, photos of the Queen through the ages, flags, bunting – the works.
Maybe it’s because my childhood years were spent in the States, so I didn’t grow up seeing Queen visits or hearing about the Royal Family much, but it all seems a bit bonkers to me. I couldn’t help but think, “All this for a little old lady!?”.
Standing at a dinky 5ft 3/4 of an inch, crowds aren’t really my thing. I don’t usually see much. So I got a coffee, found a somewhat precarious perch on a fence and soaked up the atmosphere.
And so we waited.
Rumours suggested she would be on the streets around 11am and low and behold, at 11:05, there she was.
And you know what? Screw the grumps who complained about the road closures and the fuss. It was awesome.
There are few events in today’s world that bring this many people – let alone a whole town – together in a happy, positive and jolly way. People were chatting to strangers, bumping into friends and stopping for a chat. The bar near where I was stood sent it’s staff out onto the streets with trays of Pimms (though sadly not for free), the solicitor’s office whose fence I was hanging off had opened it’s doors to parents with children so they could use their loo and their waiting room had become a make shift baby feeding area. Even the police officers were all in high spirits in the sunshine, chatting away to the public and having a laugh (another lady and I did try to persuade one of them to give us a dance like that Kiwi officer last year, but he said he had two left feet unfortunately).
I still don’t 100% ‘get it’, I don’t think I’d ever be one of the cheering, flag waving types who gets up early to claim a good spot at the barriers and waits for hours for that 30 seconds view… But it was really lovely to see so many people out to celebrate something together. Gave you that warm fuzzy feeling.
The only thing I’d say is that I bet people at the start of Queenie’s reign got a bit more dressed up for the occasion than just silly hats. The toddlers looked the smartest of the lot of us in their summer dresses and tribly sun hats.
When I picked Little Miss up from nursery, she was playing with red, white and blue balloons and full of news about how she’d “met da Qween in helcop!” (For those of you not able to speak Toddler, that translates to “met the Queen in her helicopter” which actually means, they saw the Queen from a far as she landed in her helicopter in a field. No actual meeting occurred.)
Clearly, Queenie made quite the impression. It’s all Little Miss has talked about all evening.
We read one of the Alice Through the Looking Glass books this evening, in which the Red Queen was running with Alice to her pawn square.
“Qween! Qween! Red Qween…” was all Little Miss wanted to focus on in the book. Sod Alice or the giant game of chess (granted, that part of the story might be a bit beyond Little Miss just yet anyway) all that was of interest was “the Qween!”.
It seems I may have a little royalist on my hands…!