I’m sure I was “away from home” before the Queen was crowned, but that’s the journey I remember. My friend and I were five years old, but part of being “away” lay in our going separate ways for this event. She watched the pageantry on a minuscule black-and-white TV owned by a neighbor.
My family traveled to London. My first time on a sleeper. Imagine sleeping on a train! It rocked and I felt seasick, which I wouldn’t admit, but I fell asleep somewhere on the way. In the morning, we were fed tea and two biscuits as the train rolled into London. Biscuits for breakfast!
We went to a friend of Mother’s along the processional route and watched the parade from her balcony. A gold coach carried the Queen and her consort. Cinderella never had a coach as magnificent. I was given a flag to wave but dropped it over the balcony. No one got angry. Someone gave me another one and we waved on.
Now, I’m the one watching TV. My friend’s somewhere along the route the coffin will follow. Drums, trumpets, feet, unison, the pounding beat marches the mile-and-a-half long cortege through the streets of London.
The long walk to Windsor Castle adds more miles to the new monarch’s 73-year-old feet. Perched on the coffin, the orb and crown remind the monarch that authority comes from God, the scepter announces the power of the monarch. Symbols first used by King Henry VIII at his coronation in 1509.
Solemn, serious, an outpouring of a people’s love for their Queen — consistency, stability, changelessness — the sensations we crave gone in an instant, if you believe they ever existed.