The crowd at the Queen’s funeral

In Hyde Park, where the public had been invited to follow the proceedings on giant screens, the ground looked like a dark festival ground. On the perimeter, food trucks sold German sausages, coffee, donuts and ice cream. Thousands of people sat cross-legged on the grass, watching Prince George and little Princess Charlotte, second and third in line to the throne, enter Westminster Abbey. Some had come with picnics, folding chairs and blankets; others looked like they had tripped during their morning run. About fifteen hundred portable toilets had been installed, a housekeeper named Sandra O’Brien, from Essex, told me. She walked around with a spray bottle and plastic gloves. “It’s not my normal job,” she said. Usually she works at the Bank of England printing house, where banknotes with the Queen’s portrait are printed. “The ratings are going to change, to Prince Charles – well, to King Charles,” O’Brien said.

Towards the rear of the projection area, a family unfurled a flag on which was written “Coventry”, their hometown. Near the food carts, a woman was carrying a large fish and chips. Another, clutching a sausage and wrapped in a Platinum Jubilee banner, had stopped to take a picture of mounted police. The sound of bagpipes came from the speakers. Alec Kwakye and Jessica McGann, a couple in their twenties, who had driven from Sheffield, sat on the grass. McGann said when she heard the news of the Queen’s death she cried “for, like, two days”. “She’s everything we’ve ever known, really,” she continued. “She reminds me of my own nan.” Kwakye grew up in London, but her family is originally from Ghana. “Even when I got home, you still hear about her,” he said. McGann added: “I think the Royal Family is what makes me British.”

About Eleanor Blackburn

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