Death of Queen Elizabeth II Brings Sadness, Inspiration to Washington

The bouquets of flowers were beginning to pile up Saturday morning three layers deep around the image of the Union Jack – flag of the United Kingdom, laid out on the ground at the corner entrance to the British embassy on 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, just down from the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. Defence Attache Michael Smeath stood at attention in his formal uniform decorated with ribbons and pins of his service throughout the world, to honor the passing of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) on Thursday, Sept. 8.

“It’s a bit of a shock now, isn’t it?” said one onlooker who had come to America from the East End of London more than 30 years ago but still had a charming cockney accent. “I knew she was old [the Queen was 96] but I had no idea she was doing poorly – especially after seeing her swear in the new prime minister on Monday. But there you have it.” The former Brit turned to her teenage son and said, “Whenever the Queen would give a speech on the radio, me dad, your grandpa, would make all us kids stand up and listen. We couldn’t sit down ’till the speech was over. It was a sign of respect now, wasn’t it!”

Signs of mourning and respect to The Queen – who began her reign on Feb. 6, 1952 ,when she was 25 years old and became the longest serving British monarch in history – could be increasingly seen throughout the nation’s capital over the weekend. British flags and pictures of the smiling queen appeared in shop windows and home fronts. Georgetowners were eager to share personal stories. 

“My mother has so many fond memories of the Queen,” said Georgetown resident Danielle Dukowicz, whose mother grew up in the U.K. “She especially remembers Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 – because that was the occasion which caused her father to buy the family their first television,” Dukowitz recounted, laughing. “A lot of her friends remember the same thing – the chance to get a TV!”

The official funeral in London on Monday, Sept. 19, is expected to attract the largest crowd of heads of state, guests, spectators and TV viewers in history. President Biden will be hosted at Buckingham Castle. “All the royal families have a role in the ceremonies, with things they must do, places they must be,” Marcella Johnston of Georgetown’s Violet’s hair salon told The Georgetowner. There is a lot of protocol to follow including dress protocols, Johnson knows from her close friendship with the Queen’s cousin Princess Alexandra’s family. Princess Alexandra is a working member of the royal family.

Father Tim Cole, the rector of Christ Church in Georgetown, served in the British Navy as a pastor as did his father before him – and as one of the Queen’s chaplains. The service on Sunday, Sept. 11 ,was particularly poignant for him in recognizing the death of the Queen he had served and of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. “That grievous day changed the lives of so many — not just the civilians and first responders that died that day, but the thousands of others, particularly, but by no means only, those of us who were serving in the Armed forces at the time. For that day defined the nature and content of all the rest of our service, where we went and the price that many had to pay.”

But the tragedies end in hope as well, Father Tim said. “One of the most moving things for British people here in America is the kindness and affection in which the Queen was held here. I have even heard some say that she is our queen too, Cole who was the first Washingtonians to be hospitalized with Covid-19 in March of 2020, said. “Well, I am grateful that she held the affection and respect of so many. Next Sunday we will remember her, her family and the new King, Charles III, in our prayers. Constitutional Monarchy and Republic: it is good that we can see the good in each other and stand together in all that is important in the world.” Father Tim then announced then that he, his wife and son had just become U.S. citizens. 

Flowers for Queen Elizabeth II in front of the British Embassy in Washington. Photo by Peggy Sands.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Lorraine and Rev. Tim Cole, rector of Christ Church Georgetown, are U.S. citizens. Photo by Robert Devaney.



One comment on “Death of Queen Elizabeth II Brings Sadness, Inspiration to Washington”

  • Susan Miles Gulbransen says:

    Peggy Sands brought out more important and appreciated info about Queen Elizabeth plus much of her incredible life. How I loved reading this.

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