The mood in England

JB, a friend from high school, has been living in London for a number of years. His essay titled “The Mood in London” helps explain to us Yanks what it’s like to be in England right now. More interesting to me was his account of what it was like to stand in line to view the Queen lying in state. Like this ritual that he witnessed:

“Rather than a walk-past (when visiting the Crown Jewels you’re actually standing on a moving conveyor belt), each person was allowed a moment or so to contemplate or bow, as many people did. It was just as I was paying my respects that I was asked to move on, to make way for the changing of the guard. This was an extraordinary spectacle with a new team of sentinels marching to the catafalque (the platform that held the coffin), and positioning themselves directly behind the waxworks. Then, by clockwork, the petrified figures displayed their sentience, seeming to lurch alive and step forward, as their replacements took their positions and powered down to a fugue state. The rescued team then marched, like wind-up soldiers, to a stone staircase, which they ascended in military precision and before disappearing through a door. This ceremony was repeated every 20 minutes, and whatever its origins, it was a remarkable sight.”

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