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Crowds gather following death of HM Queen Elizabeth II, age 96

News Editor Justine Noble on the immediate aftermath of HM Queen Elizabeth’s death at Buckingham Palace in London:

On 8 September 2022, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, a statement by Buckingham Palace revealed. Her death marked the end of her 70-year reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, a period of immense social change.

The public was informed that the Queen was in ill health hours earlier on the same day. In anticipation of the end of her life, people began to gather at Buckingham Palace to pay tribute. Roar joined the crowd to get a better picture of the atmosphere at Buckingham Palace in the hours that followed her Majesty’s death.

At 9 PM, Green Park was busy to say the very least. While police and station staff rushed to direct the flows of traffic, people stood shoulder to shoulder in station exits trying to get to Buckingham Palace.

Once finally out of the station, people joined the long line of umbrellas making their way in the dark and through pouring rain on a single path through the park. Where some were holding flowers in silence, others were smiling and chatting away with their friends.

Approaching Buckingham Palace, cheers could be heard from the Victoria Memorial, on top of which people sporting Team GB merch waved the Union Jack. To the left of the memorial stood countless press vans. Their reporters could be seen on air in several different languages across the square.

Closer to the palace gates, however, a much more somber mood could be felt as people quietly stuck bouquets through the bars, cried, or stood in silence.

To understand the different reasons people made their way to Buckingham Palace, Roar asked passers-by to share their thoughts and feelings with us.

Many attended because they felt Her Majesty’s death marked an important day in British history. According to one woman, her ‘long and prosperous reign’ made it a ‘historical day’ and warranted her being ‘honored by her country’.

The significance of the day in wider world history was also made clear. One Australian girl told Roar how she came because it was her ‘first time travelling’ in the UK and it was a ‘pretty monumental time to be here’. ‘Everyone back home is saying it’s historic’. To her, it felt historic due to her long reign, and ‘her achievement’.

Her American friend told Roar how visiting the palace served as a learning experience. She explained how she was observing the many ‘emotions around us’ and ‘witnessing it all’. ‘It’s interesting to see how much people love her’.

The third member of their group added, ‘If this was for the government, I would never come because I don’t like the government. She had good morals, was a good person, and she is loved’.

For many, Her Majesty served as a religious role model. To one girl, she served as ‘the embodiment of Jesus and her faith was beautiful. She was such a wonderful woman and impacted my life. Her heart was golden and she did so much for this country and impacted so many people’.

Other people present experienced a sense of personal loss. An elderly couple explained, ‘We are pensioners and the queen has been a queen for all of our lives’. In her husband’s words, ‘she has been our second mother, which you hold dear and is always there’.

The final person we spoke to was an old man watching from afar with his hands clasped and teary eyes. When we asked him why he came, he simply replied, ‘She’s my queen. That’s it.’

Her son, King Charles III, stated that in the impending period of mourning, his family would be ‘comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which the Queen was widely held’.

However, the Queen’s death has equally led to questions resurfacing over the British Monarchy’s relevance in modern society. Many, rather than mourning the Queen, see her death as that of a proponent of the evils of colonialism.

Regardless of differing views on the British Monarchy, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II nonetheless meant a lot to many Britons and people around the world for a variety of reasons. By them, she will be remembered dearly.

In this period of mourning, much of national life will be suspended. A state funeral for Her Majesty is set to take place on 19 September.

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