A MILLION mourners are expected to descend on the nation’s capital this week to pay their respects along the route of the Queen’s funeral cortege and at her lying-in-state at Westminster Hall.
As part of its public service remit, this column is undertaking to provide the following guidance on how native Londoners might cope with the onslaught.
Queueing: the best way to avoid the queue to view her late majesty’s coffin is not to join it. The government estimates it could stretch for five miles and might take you 30 hours to get to the front. In fact, if you’re reading this, you may already have left it too late.
The back of the line is supposed to be at my local patch of green, Potters Field, (see “Idle Thoughts” passim). The small riverside park, with a commanding view across to Traitor’s Gate, normally serves as a spot for out-of-towners to take selfies and dump their litter.
Overnight, it has been transformed into a steel-barriered holding pen for stragglers, guarded by a serried rank of Portaloos. If the route is overwhelmed, there’s a plan to dragoon the overflow to Southwark Park. You can’t say south-east London isn’t doing its bit.
Weatherspoon’s pubs: these reasonably priced hostelries are the favoured refuge of many surviving babyboomers, affectionately known as Generation Snooze.
If you would like to hear (yet again) their recollections about 1. “What I was doing on the day the old King died” 2. “How I stood barefoot in the smog when the young Queen’s limo went by”, or 3. “How we celebrated her coronation with an extra slice of bread and dripping”, then make the nearest Spoon’s your go-to destination.
Dining out: upmarket mourners are already reserving tables at a handful of exclusive eateries after luxury lifestyle magazine The Resident suggested: “There are various ways you can pay your respects to the Queen in London, however if you are planning to toast in her honour, why not do so in one of her favourite London restaurants?”
Top of the list is Bellamy’s in Mayfair, also touted by London’s Evening Standard on the basis that “the Queen visited at least twice over the years”. Get the butler to book early to avoid disappointment.
Expressions of dissent: try to avoid making any overt comments that might be taken to suggest less than whole-hearted support for the royal family or the institution of the British monarchy.
I’ve noticed that my lippy republican mates, not usually backwards in coming forward, have been remarkably taciturn in the days since the death of the Queen.
Maybe they have been alerted to reports of isolated incidents of protestors and their “Not My King” placards being dragged from the streets by the boys in blue.
A barrister in Parliament Square says he was threatened with arrest if he wrote anything disloyal on the blank sheet of paper he was holding.
Although the pending Public Order Bill appears to ban any demonstration judged to be even mildly irritating, the Metropolitan Police says people “absolutely have a right to protest”, while even the courtly Daily Telegraph conceded that “even republicans have a right to cause offense”.
But, in case any members of the self-appointed thought police are reading this, I would just like to stress my genuine admiration of the late Queen in the conduct of her duties.
She charmed Africa’s Commonwealth leaders and kept them onside in the 1980s at a time when her prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was pandering to the apartheid regime in Pretoria.
She comforted survivors at the scene the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, while Theresa May went there but avoided meeting them for “security reasons”. The PM still got booed.
And who could not sympathise with the Queen after Princess Diana’s death in 1997 when, in what felt like a re-run of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the bouquet-wielding mob condemned her for not sharing their hysteria. She had decided her grieving grandchildren were her priority.
The late Queen’s talent for never openly expressing an opinion on anything beyond the racecourse meant we could all fantasise about what she really thought on any given subject.
I like to imagine her contemplating this week’s mourning extravaganza and thinking: “My goodness, do they have to make quite so much fuss?”
3 thoughts on “The Queen’s funeral: a Londoner’s survival guide”
So glad Jim and I are still in Canada. We expect everything will have calmed down by the time we arrive for our 6 month sojourn November 4. But then again, perhaps not. Hmmm…..
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Well said Harvey.
Got to this a bit late, Harvey, but I really did have bread and dripping when G5 went on his way. As ever, a most entertaining read.
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