On 15th September I made a trip to London to see the memorial flowers for the Queen at Green Park, which is adjacent to Buckingham Palace. Huge numbers of flowers have been placed there by the public and, as I write this, they continue to be.
Initially, I was going to London on Monday 19th September for the Queen’s funeral, but I was warned by National Express that Victoria Coach Station would be closed and we’d all be dumped off at Wembley Stadium instead. Okay, they didn’t phrase it quite like that, but that was the gist of their email.
Landing at Wembley Stadium was no good at all because whereas the coach station is about a 15-minute walk from Westminster, Wembley is approximately 40 minutes away via the Tube. I could just imagine the huge numbers of people all trying to get on the underground at the same time and I realised that I’d be lucky to make it there by 11 am.
Walking from Victoria Coach Station towards Buckingham Palace, I encountered flower sellers trying to make some money from passers-by… and succeeding.
At the Palace there were quite a few people milling around, though not as many as I thought there would be. There were, however, a lot of press tents by Buckingham Palace, where the world’s media were based as they covered events surrounding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. It soon became clear that most people were just passing by on their way to Green Park to see the remembrance flowers and cards etc.
In Green Park, there was a sea of flowers everywhere you looked, and more people arriving with flowers all the time. Some wandered around for ages, looking for the ‘right’ location to place their bouquets. Some people were in tears, some were in deep contemplation and some were wearing brightly-coloured Union Jack hats. The overall mood was, however, quite sombre.
Something that was really apparent, and more so than anywhere else I’ve been, was that virtually all the Park visitors were living the event through their phones. I did wonder how many actually took in what they were seeing because everywhere you looked people had their phones out and were either taking photos of the flowers, or selfies with the floral displays in the background. Now of course you could argue that I was one of them, albeit with a camera.
After Green Park it was a brief tube ride to capture photos of people emerging from the Palace of Westminster after viewing the Queen’s coffin, which was lying in state there. The world’s press were also there and they were pouncing on anyone remotely interesting-looking that emerged.
Just as I was leaving to get my coach back home, a lone bagpiper at Parliament Square started playing.