A Truly Historic Event

Buckingham Palace in London from a bridge in St. James’s Park

The years since the turnover to our current millennium have been filled with globally historic events. There have been other world-shaking events in the past, but with instantaneous news transmission, we now get to watch them play out as they transpire.

It’s a sign of the charisma of the British monarchy that millions of people around the world are affected by the death of its longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The late queen was such an iconic symbol of an iconic institution that her passing is momentous, whether you’re a fan of the monarchy or not.

If you’ve ever been to London, you’ll understand how deeply the presence of a living monarchy runs through British culture.

Main gates at Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace dominates the central part of the city. Its ornate, imposing gates look just as they should for what was once the most powerful institution in the world. In the early 20th century, the British Empire, including all of its far-flung territories, dominions and outposts, covered almost one-quarter of the globe, all overseen by that small island off the coast of Europe and Scandinavia.

By contrast, my hubby and I were in Vienna a number of years ago and visited the Hofburg Palace, a magnificent building that’s now only a museum piece. You can visit remnants of Austria’s monarchy all over the country, from hunting lodges in the mountains to cafes where all the court gossip that was worth hearing could be had for the price of a cup of rich kaffee and a luscious pastry. But it’s all slowly becoming an annotated archive, whereas in England the monarchy lives, goes about its daily duties and celebrates milestones with flair.

The modern London Eye overlooks centuries of history on the Thames River

London itself is one of the great crossroads cities of the world, with a historical reputation to match. But even though modern touches can be seen throughout, London inevitably brings to mind grand architecture, atmospheric pubs, beautiful parks, and so many other things that are steeped in tradition.

For writers, the progression of events surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral are a study in the pomp and formality of a form of government that’s 1200 years old and still thriving. If you doubt that, look at all the attention the royal family still receives.

On top of that, the ripple effects of a change in monarch are widespread. So much speculation about the new King and how he’ll handle the many challenges still embroiling the royal family, how soon official portraits will be changed, how many foreign dignitaries will travel to London for the funeral, how many British-ruled territories will decide to become independent, and all the many other people and places impacted by the royal family in some way.

I can’t believe how many articles I’ve seen in Canadian news about our currency that has the late Queen’s image on it. Personally, I can’t see the Bank of Canada reprinting all of the millions of pieces of currency in circulation just to change the images. I’d expect to see new bills and coins slowly start to appear with King Charles III on them, and the old ones to disappear as they start to wear out. Likely there will be some commemorative pieces that are issued for avid collectors.

How long will the British monarchy survive? Only time itself will sort that out, but for now, the passing of the torch from the Queen to the new King is something worth watching. We’ll never see a transition of this magnitude again in our lifetime.

You can follow more of the historic event on the royal website, and if you’re curious as to how Canada is handling all of this, visit the “Commemoration for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” section of the Government of Canada’s website.

The Changing of the Guard in front of Buckingham Palace

All photos are by me unless otherwise specified, and all rights are reserved. E. Jurus

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