Seeing the Queen

As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, my friends and I were blessed enough to get to see Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England, while we were studying abroad. It was on a Saturday morning when she was on her way to a ceremony called Trooping the Colour to celebrate her birthday. Although you had to get tickets far in advance to be able to watch the actual ceremony, we still were able to watch the elaborate procession from Buckingham Palace to the ceremony, and then back to the palace.

We woke up super early, at about 6 am, and made our way to stand along The Mall, the road in front of Buckingham Palace. We were some of the first people there, but we were able to secure a good spot. We spent a lot of time in the scolding hot sun waiting for the procession to start. Finally, at about 9:30 am, the procession started. The beginning was just a few of the Queen’s guards walking down the road. The Queen’s guards are famous British guards with the giant furry hats. Then, over time, more and more of the Queen’s guards came down the procession and the guards started to wear more elaborate and decorated uniforms, and some rode on horses. They all carried guns as well.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, the royal procession started. The first carriage had Prince Charles and a man we didn’t recognize. The next carriage had Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, and Kate Middleton. Following them was the carriage with the Queen and her husband Prince Philip. Then behind her was Prince William and Princess Anne riding horseback in decorated uniforms.

It was incredible to get to see the royal family in person! The entire crowd, consisting of thousands of people, was roaring. Most of the crowd, including us, was holding small British flags that a man came around and sold to bystanders.

Then, we waited another two hours in the hot sun and watched as the royal family and all of the Queen’s guards made their way back to Buckingham Palace. A few minutes later the entire royal family emerged onto the balcony, and a bunch of fighter jets started doing a fly by over the Mall and the Palace. The grand finale was six fighter jets in a row leaving three colored stripes in the sky: red, white, and blue. Then, the Queen and the rest of the family gave one final wave and went back into the Palace.

This was by far one of the most memorable experiences from my Study Abroad trip. I mean, how many people can actually say they have seen the Queen of England?! We left the Palace with smiles on our faces, sunburn on our skin, and lots of good pictures to carry the moment on with us forever.