I spent eight glorious days in London this past July. It was so good to be travelling again despite all the dire warnings of flight cancellations, delays and lost luggage. Thankfully, I didn’t experience any of those problems…it was clear sailing (flying) across the Atlantic.
The only hick-up was the weather…we were in London for the hottest day in recorded history, 40C. We spent that particular day in the comfort of Harrods (AC) but foolishly decided to walk (1.6 miles) back to the hotel, late afternoon, through Hyde Park in the blistering heat. The grass was brown and crunchy underfoot. Scary actually. A fire could easily have sparked from any bit of friction and wiped out the whole park within minutes. Police on motorcycles were patrolling the park looking for anyone in distress…surprisingly, they didn’t pick me up as I was definitely in distress!!!
It seemed like everyone decided to visit London this summer! Crowds everywhere. I can only imagine how these numbers have multiplied many times over this week as people flock to central London to express their respect to their beloved monarch, Queen Elizabeth 11.
For any of you familiar with Buckingham Palace, you will recognize this photo (left) as the crest on the gates to the palace courtyard. I took quite a few photos before I was happy with this one!
***The announcement of the Queen’s passing was attached to this gate on September 8, 2022.
Seeing the pomp and ceremony of the “Changing of the Guards” never gets old. The day we went, we also caught the Horse Guard. We got this close-up photo (below) of the guards reporting to their stations.
Although Buckingham Palace’s main gates are majestic, I, possibly biased, think Canada Gate (below), in its golden splendour, outshines it. Canada donated this gate to London shortly after the passing of Queen Victoria in 1901.
Just in front of Canada Gate is the Queen’s Garden (photo left), which she often walked when she was in residence at Buckingham Palace. It is formal and simply planted but very beautiful.
We visited Westminster Abbey along with all the royals, politicians, writers and poets who are buried here. I spent time at the front altar to see the Coronation Chair and the spot where Princess Diana’s brother delivered his emotional eulogy during her funeral. Looking around, I tried to imagine what it sounded like in the cathedral when the crowds inside and those mourners outside broke into thunderous applause when he finished.
Wouldn’t it have been amazing to witness all the special occasions that have been held at Westminster Abbey…the Coronations, royal weddings and funerals? Little did I know that within weeks Queen Elizabeth’s funeral would be taking place, and sometime soon, King Charles will be coronated at Westminster.
This is my favourite corridor in the abbey. I’ve been at Westminster Abbey for a Sunday sermon in the past and loved seeing and hearing the choir perform here.
We also went to the “Tower of London” to see the Crown Jewels. The Imperial Crown, Sovereign’s Orb, and Sovereign’s Sceptre will come out from behind the highly secured glass during Prince Charles 111 Coronation.
***I was surprised to see the Imperial Crown sitting on top of the Queen’s casket. It seemed to be just within reach of all those who paid their respect at the public viewing as the Queen lay in state. So very civilized…
The scaffolding has recently been taken down from Big Ben which has undergone a 5-year restoration. The hefty 80 million pound cost to restore the clock’s inner workings, polish the emeralds, replace the clock hands back to the original blue (not black) and shine up the gold was well worth it. Big Ben is a major tourist attraction.
***During the gun carriage procession of Queen Elizabeth’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the great bell of Big Ben tolled in one-minute intervals.
I will talk a little more about London in next week’s blog…hope you won’t get bored hearing about my summer vacation!