Elon students studying abroad in London reflect on their experience in the United Kingdom capital during the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the country's longest reigning monarch.
Abigail Adams ’24 and her classmates in London had just left an organized team-building activity on Sept. 8 when they saw the news that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away. The longest-serving British monarch, Queen Elizabeth took the throne at the age of 25 and led her country for seven decades.
“Everyone dropped everything and ran toward Buckingham Palace,” Adams said.
When Queen Elizabeth II died, it felt as though the entire country had stopped, Adams said. An outpouring of royalist mourners paid their respects at Buckingham Palace and the United Kingdom had a 12-day mourning period for the late sovereign from her passing until her funeral on Monday, Sept. 19.
“Everything felt so quiet,” said Becca Chase ’24, who is among the more than 80 Elon students studying in London this semester. “The day of the funeral, everything was closed … and thousands of people of different ages were all walking to see the queen’s body pass by. Seeing the varied reactions was surreal.”
The day after the queen’s death, Adams, Chase and one of their other roommates, Allison Katz ’24, traveled to Bath, which is about 115 miles from London.
At Bath Abbey, there was a 10-minute service at the top of every hour for the queen and the somberness of everyone was something that stood out to them.
Natalie Iammarino ’24 stayed in London the day after the queen’s death as she wanted to see the continued reactions from those in the city. She noticed that it was the physical reminders at bus stops, common areas and restaurants and pubs of her death that were more prevalent than the behavior of the residents.
“One thing they tell you when you’re about to study abroad is to integrate yourself with the city. And with this event, what else could you ask for to get involved with the city? Being a part of the crowds outside Buckingham Palace and the crowd watching the queen’s funeral procession, I felt like I was a part of the city and that’s something special,” Iammarino said.
All four of the Elon students watched the funeral procession on Monday from Hyde Park. Katz said it was a powerful experience to see people who cared so deeply for the queen be able to pay their respects with others who felt just as strongly.
“Everyone came together as one … you could see people looking down with tears on their faces and others who just embraced the moment,” Katz said. “We’ve immersed ourselves in the town and being on the streets and seeing history happen and understanding how everyone views it and how it’s impacting London and the UK as a whole.”
As the longest reigning monarchy in the United Kingdom’s history, and the second longest head of state in world history, Queen Elizabeth left an indelible mark on the world. Public opinion about the monarchy has evolved since Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1952, but being present for such a significant shift in history is something that Iammarino doesn’t take for granted.
“It’s a very sad event that happened. But in a way, I think we’re really lucky to be here right now,” she said.