Wednesday, June 6, 2012


It's been an eventful week.  Along with our normal activities at the London Temple Visitors' Centre, Queen Elizabeth II just happened to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee a few days ago on our wedding anniversary. Unbeknownst to us at the time, Don and I were married on the 15th anniversary of her coronation, and this last weekend the whole United Kingdom and most of the British Commonwealth celebrated a milestone anniversary with us and with her. Unexpectedly, we got to join in!

I must say it was an historic event for all of us. Forty-five years is a long time to be married, but sixty years is an amazingly long time to reign as the queen. The only monarch to rule England longer than Queen Elizabeth was Queen Victoria. Victoria reigned 63 years and 7 months, and no one would be surprised if Queen Elizabeth exceeds that. She is 86 years old but appears to be in remarkable health. The newspapers here are all reporting that she is more content with her life right now than she ever has been. It seems that the royal family has taken to behaving itself more admirably lately.

For our 45th anniversary, Don and I had reserved tickets a month ago for The Lion King in the London theatre district. Our mission, the England London South Mission, only extends as far north as the Thames River, but senior missionary couples are allowed to cross that boundary to go into downtown London. In fact, we were just in London a week ago to see Chariots of Fire with our Mission President and all of the senior couples in the mission (see our blog post from May 28th). In actuality, Don and I are authorized to travel in a much larger area. Because of our particular calling, we are to visit, where possible, the entire temple district area. We doubt we will be going to Limerick, Ireland or Lille, France, but our temple district also covers about half of England and most of Wales.  As we serve our mission, we will be traveling to visit wards and stakes in many of those areas. But, alas, I digress....

Because of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations last weekend, we decided to stay overnight in London after the play. The next day, we met up with Elder and Sister Brooks (Arthur and Pam). He is the director of the newly opened Hyde Park Chapel Visitors' Centre. We met when we were trained together in the Provo MTC in January. The Brooks have become great friends and they are British, which means they knew how to navigate the Jubilee crowds (better than we did anyway). We decided to attend the Flotilla celebration together on the banks of the Thames. It was amazing!!

I don't think I've ever been in a larger crowd in my life. There was standing room only in the tube (Underground) and on the train. In fact, I've never seen so many people packed into the stations and on the trains - even during rush hour here or in Washington, D.C.  Everywhere we walked people were packed together like sardines. Despite the 90% chance of rain forecast with a high of only 52 degrees, the nation turned out by the millions. No place for someone fainthearted or claustrophobic, that's for sure. Many were dressed in red, white and blue. People were in good spirits, waving British flags all along the way, and behaving respectfully and courteously towards one another. When the Royal Family appeared, the cheer that went up was deafening. It was impressive!

We only expected to get close enough to watch the 1000 ship/boat flotilla on one of the 47 huge viewing screens set up for miles along the banks of the Thames. In the end, we got close enough that we had a great view of two viewing screens and a limited view of the river. We also had a cardboard periscope which worked brilliantly! By looking at the mirror in the bottom of the contraption that reflected another angled mirror about 18 inches higher, we could see the boats and ships quite well. I even managed to get my very own (blurry) photo of the queen's yacht with all the royalty aboard. So much fun!!

Here are a few of our very amateur pictures of the event along with some press photos (duly noted).

Victoria Station

Crowds, crowds and more crowds

Here we are with Pam  Brooks

We were across the river from the Royal Festival Hall

Arthur Brooks with our periscope

We got our first views of the event from a large screen TV

Queen Elizabeth  arriving for the flotilla

A press photo of the Queen's arrival

The first ship in the flotilla

Aboard the royal yacht on the Thames

Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth viewing the crowd

The royal yacht 

Ready to check out the proceedings

This was our view of the Thames and the London Eye

My own photo of the Queen's yacht. (Hint:  it's between the flags.)

A press photo above the Thames

Don and the giant screen

Heading back to the Tube

A view of Big Ben

Big Ben and the top of Parliament 

On the Tube

This picture does not do justice to the
number of people crammed in our train car!

On Tuesday, the final day of the Diamond Jubilee celebration, we were invited to our first English Tea Party!  There have been massive family and community celebrations taking place all over the country for the past four days. Everyone has come together to praise Queen Elizabeth for her lifetime of service.

As it was described to me on Tuesday, being invited to tea means to that you will have tea and biscuits. A tea party, on the other hand, can include all kinds of treats and goodies. Men, women and children are invited.

At the Bridgestocks home

A wonderful, large extended family living ona large piece of land near the temple invited us to their family celebration. Lucky for us, it was scheduled after our shift at the Visitors' Centre had ended. One of their sons-in-law comes to our Visitors' Centre every week or two to substitute for us while we hold training meetings, etc. Tuesday, this good family invited about twenty people to join with their already large family to celebrate. It was so much fun! When we walked into the house there were three long tables decorated in red, white and blue bunting and laden with the most abundant, beautiful spread of sandwiches and treats. We had a wonderful meal together and loved being a small part of this exciting, historic celebration. We even got to sing "God Save The Queen!"                        ~Pat~

No comments:

Post a Comment