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DIANE KNOX: An Invernessian in the USA mourns the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and relates how Americans reacted to the news

By Diane Knox

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Diane Knox.
Diane Knox.

My heart has felt so heavy over the past week, since the passing of our Queen.

Last Thursday was a very surreal day, and it seemed to unfold very suddenly. The announcement that there was concern for Her Majesty’s health, followed by the notice of her death a mere six hours later.

We knew it was imminent – she was, after all, 96 years old – but it was still a shock. I didn’t expect to get emotional over her passing, but tears flowed down my cheeks as I followed the news, read the never-ending messages of condolences and grieved the death of our monarch.

I googled images of Queen Elizabeth II and a few things remained consistent in all the pictures I came across – her constant poise, her impeccable outfits and that mischievous smile that often graced her face. The last official picture of her, taken just days before her passing, was a prime example.

My mum immediately called me when the news broke and told me both her and my dad shed a few tears also. She summed it up perfectly – Her Majesty was such a huge part of their heritage. She reigned as Queen for over 70 years, and was woven into the fabric of our lives in so many ways.

Being Stateside, the reaction to her death was very different. It’s hard to convey her significance or find adequate grounds for comparison – the Queen sat on her throne while 14 US presidents came and went. However, there is a great deal of admiration and respect for Her Majesty, and that truly came across.

I say “all”, but I suppose it depends on who you were following. As expected, the Harry and Meghan storyline seemed to rear its ugly head rather quickly, with beady eyes tracking the drama that seems to follow them around. When William and Harry reunited, with their spouses by their sides to meet with well-wishers and read the floral tributes at Windsor Castle, the media went crazy. That occurrence put to bed the rumours of a brotherly rift, for a short time at least.

One thing that really stood out to me, and gave me goosebumps, was the coverage of Scotland as the Queen’s body was transported from Balmoral to St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, with thousands upon thousands of people lining the streets of villages, towns and cities as the procession of cars made the six hour journey last weekend. Our country paid its respects beautifully.

I think some Americans find it hard to understand the monarchy and the concept of the Royal Family and, putting myself in their shoes, I can kind of see why. From the outside, it does seem a little old-fashioned, with this strange hierarchy that sits alongside the government. What does the Royal Family actually mean, and what does the sovereign actually do?

Well, for me, she was a symbol of unity, stability and pride.

Diane's family has a crystal bowl with connections to the Queen
Diane's family has a crystal bowl with connections to the Queen

I never saw the pint-sized Queen in the flesh, but I do have something that used to belong to her! My grandparents, who are American, lived in Inverness for a short period of their lives, and in the late ‘80s they moved back to California. They had become good friends with a man who used to work for the Queen, and as a leaving gift he gave them a crystal bowl that had previously been gifted to him by his former employer. As a wedding present last year, my granny gave it to us and it sits, with pride of place, in our living room. A special piece that became even more precious last week.

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