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Transitioning to Life in London During a Historic Time

Oct 5, 2022 10:00:00 AM / by Kathleen Gorman

Kathleen Gorman and her fellow CAPA students arrived in London not knowing what would come next for the country: news of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Kathleen, a student from Providence College, shares how the city of London coped with the shocking news during a historic time, including scenes from around Buckingham Palace.

Moving across the world by yourself is a feat in and of itself, but then when a country is turned upside down the same day as you arrive, your whole worldview changes.

On September 8, bright and early in the morning I arrived in London excited to see all that this semester had ahead of me. Later that day, while unpacking and meeting all my flatmates for the first time, we got the tragic news that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away. This was a shock to all of our systems, because even though we are all American, Queen Elizabeth was an iconic figure to many. Although the city of London went into mourning, we all knew this was such a historical and unique time for us to be studying abroad.

Immediately the city was filled with pictures of the Queen. She was posted up in all of the Tube stations, on billboards around the city, in shop windows, and on every magazine and newspaper cover. The next day after our welcome afternoon tea, my flatmates and I decided to take the Tube over to Buckingham Palace to see what was happening given the news from the day prior. The area was flooded with people, and flowers filled palace grounds and covered the gates. There were also marmalade sandwiches and a few Paddington Bears spread here and there as well.

Buckingham Palace gates filled with flowers, cards, and photos from the public

Buckingham Palace gates filled with flowers, cards, and photos from the public.

People were visiting from all over and news crews and journalists surrounded the outside barrier of the grounds, eager to speak to anyone they were able to get their hands on. Thousands of people were flooding in, pushing their way to the front of the pack, just to get as close to the palace as they could.

Although Buckingham Palace and the surrounding area was filled with people, it was close to noiseless. The air had a somber and eerie feeling, making it easy to hear the people around you breathing. Little to no talking was happening, with small children softly asking their parents questions around me. Many had bouquets of followers, handwritten notes, and drawings in their hands, ready to go and place them by the gates.

People placing down their flowers at the palace gates while paying their respects to the Queen

People placing down their flowers at the Palace gates while paying their respects to the Queen.
Flowers placed around the Queen Victoria Memorial outside of Buckingham Palace

Flowers placed around the Queen Victoria Memorial outside of Buckingham Palace.

In the days to follow, there continued to be a mourning period throughout the city. More and more people came to pay their respects to the Queen, and countless more flower stands started popping up throughout the city.

Later on, we received a note from CAPA that the following Monday would be a bank holiday due to the Queen’s funeral. My flatmates and I immediately knew that we would be getting ourselves over near Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey in order to participate in this event. Early in the morning on the day of the funeral, we took the Tube over to South Kensington, got our Pret, and started the wait for the Queen’s post-funeral procession. While watching the service on our phones, we waited patiently for the procession, and then it finally happened.

Police horses walk down the South Carriage Drive awaiting the Queen's procession

Police horses walk down the South Carriage Drive awaiting the Queen's procession.
Queen Elizabeth's casket in the royal hearse in route to Windsor for her burial

Queen Elizabeth's casket in the royal hearse in route to Windsor for her burial.

Who knew that we would all get to experience such a historical moment during our study abroad semester.

Thanks, Kathleen!

Kathleen Gorman


Kathleen Gorman is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2022, sharing
her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major at Providence College, she is studying and interning abroad in London this semester.

Kathleen's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: London, England, Local Culture