C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Drive: The Last Rose of Summer

Click to enlarge.

The lovely poem, beautifully sung by John McDermott:


'Tis the last rose of summer,

    Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions

    Are faded and gone;

No flower of her kindred,

    No rose-bud is nigh,

To reflect back her blushes

    Or give sigh for sigh!


So soon may I follow,

    When friendships decay,

And from love's shining circle

    The gems drop away!

When true hearts lie withered,

    And fond ones are flown,

Oh! who would inhabit

    This bleak world alone?


Monday, September 19, 2022


Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen,
Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Coronation portrait by Cecil Beaton, 1953

After a solemn, splendid funeral in the capital, Her Majesty the Queen was taken through massive crowds of her grieving people to Windsor Castle - fortress and home of the kings of England for a thousand years - and laid to rest beside her beloved husband, parents, and sister - her duty done at last.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant:  enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

May her soul, and the souls of all faithful departed, rest in peace.


For the record, the schedule of today's events from the BBC:

6:30 BST - The window for the public to see Elizabeth II lying in state comes to an end, as the doors to Westminster Hall are closed

8:00 - Doors of Westminster Abbey open for the 2,000 guests expected - from world leaders to charity workers and the Japanese emperor

10:44 - The day’s first procession will set off, with King Charles and other senior royals walking behind the Queen’s coffin as it’s pulled by sailors on the State Gun Carriage from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey

11:00 - The state funeral service begins

11:55 - The Last Post bugle sounds, followed by a national two minutes’ silence

12:00 - Service ends, and at 12:15 a second, larger procession brings her coffin to Wellington Arch

13:00 - Her coffin is transferred to the state hearse and driven to Windsor along a route expected to be lined by crowds

15:00 - The day’s third procession begins, through the grounds of Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel

16:00 - Committal service takes place at St George’s Chapel

19:30 - Royal Family returns to the chapel for a private burial service that will see Elizabeth II interred alongside her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh

Well done, Ma'am.  Thank you for your service.
Godspeed and bon voyage.


Sunday, September 18, 2022


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, photographed in May 2022,
The aquamarine brooches were an 18th-birthday gift from her parents.

Buckingham Palace released today a recent photograph of the Queen with her familiar broad smile:  a lovely parting look at the beloved monarch, mother, and grandmother who holds a special place like none other in the hearts of not only her family and her people, but also in the hearts of billions all around the world.

The queue for the lying in state at Westminster Hall has been closed by the authorities, as the last mourner must be out of the Hall by 6:30 a.m. so that preparations for the state funeral can begin.  Until then, you can still watch the live stream of the lying in state here:

London has geared up for the massive funeral, a gargantuan task for the police and military, and a logistical nightmare for the Foreign Office, what with hundreds of kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers, and assorted potentates streaming in from the four corners of the world to attend tomorrow's State Funeral in Westminster Abbey.  A quarter of the 2000 seats in Westminster Abbey will be occupied by these dignitaries and their spouses.  Also present will be the Royal Family, foreign royalty, Governors-General from the Commonwealth realms, the British Prime Minister and Cabinet, Commonwealth prime ministers, Members of Parliament, officers of the Crown and the Royal Household, the Diplomatic Corps, British and Commonwealth military representatives, and God knows who else.  

The guest list is so big, and security so tight, that instead of arriving with dignity in their limousines, heads of state will be ferried en masse to the Abbey by a fleet of hired buses.  Imagine the high and mighty of the world all jammed into their seats, like commuters in the morning rush hour.  Extraordinary.  An exception has been made for the American President, who will arrive in his own heavily armored limo.

The King and Queen Consort hosted a reception for world leaders at Buckingham Palace tonight.


Buckingham Palace has released the programme of events for the funeral tomorrow, which you can read on the BBC website here.

Auspiciously, a rainbow appeared over Westminster Hall and the Abbey this afternoon, to the astonished delight of those in the queue:


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Vigils for the Queen

Watch the continuous live stream from Westminster Hall without commentary via Sky News here.

I've had to take a little break from blogging; what with the time difference between here and London, and a number of different events to watch - live if possible - my sleep/wake cycle is all broken up, and I haven't had 8 continuous hours of rest all week. But I am persevering, and firmly intend to be rested and wide awake for the funeral, which will commence at 5 a. m. Texas time on Monday. 

On and on they come, wearied but resolute, filing past the magnificent catafalque holding aloft its precious burden, old and young, tall and short, thick and thin, young and old, united in grief and reverence.  Turbaned Sikhs, Africans in native dress, soldiers and sailors in uniform, mufti, or camo with berets or plumed caps, veterans of both sexes wearing a raft of newly-polished medals on their chests, Boy Scouts and Scoutmasters too with their colored kerchiefs round their necks, saluting the coffin with three fingers, expectant mothers, babes in arms, bearded fathers carrying one and towing another, wondering boys and girls with the bright, expectant faces of untarnished innocence, a pair of elderly twins dressed in identical suits, a blind man with a guide dog, the lame leaning on their canes and crutches and walkers, the crippled and disabled in their wheelchairs - on and on they come in never-ending stream, past the dignified ushers in white tie and tails waving them gently onwards, past the London bobbies in their tall peaked helmets, the Beefeaters Yeomen of the Guard still wearing the splendid red-and-gold costumes of the first Elizabeth's reign, the tall, stately Grenadiers resplendent in scarlet tunics and bearskin caps, standing still as statues:  Britons and others of all sorts, ages, colors, and faiths, devotees of one god, or many, or none, a galaxy of mourners, diverse as the stars in the heavens, paying their last respects to their beloved Sovereign and steadfast servant, the devoted grandmother of the nation, in one great, united act of gratitude and love:  Unforgettable.

Last night, His Majesty the King, his sister, and brothers stood another Vigil of the Princes around their mother's bier in Westminster Abbey, as they did in St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, at the beginning of the week.


And today, the Queen's eight grandchildren stood vigil, something that has never happened before, a very touching sight; they enter the hall at about the 8:30 mark:


Earlier today, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, daughters of the Duke of York, released this poignant statement
Our dearest Grannie,

We've not been able to put much into words since you left us all.

There have been tears and laughter, silences and chatter, hugs and loneliness, and a collective loss for you, our beloved Queen and our beloved Grannie.  

We, like many, thought you'd be here forever. And we all miss you terribly.

You were our matriarch, our guide, our loving hand on our backs leading us through this world. You taught us so much and we will cherish those lessons and memories forever.

For now dear Grannie, all we want to say is thank you. Thank you for making us laugh, for including us, for picking heather and raspberries, for marching soldiers, for our teas, for comfort, for joy. You, being you, will never know the impact you have had on our family and so many people around the world.

The world mourns you and the tributes would really make you smile. They are all too true of the remarkable leader you are.

We're so happy you're back with Grandpa. Goodbye dear Grannie, it has been the honour of our lives to have been your granddaughters and we're so very proud of you.

We know that dear Uncle Charles, the King, will continue to lead in your example as he too has dedicated his life to service.

God save the King.

With our love,
Beatrice and Eugenie

One more thing.  In yesterday's post, I remarked on all the manly men who have shown up for this week's events.  Today, the King and the Prince of Wales went out to greet and thank some of the folks standing in that long, long queue, and got a very warm response from the loyal crowds.  I took this screen shot of one regular guy standing by his wife who shook the King's hand and said to him, "Well done, Your Majesty, and you are very much loved."  

Imagine some big butch guy in America saying a thing like that to the President!  Unbelievable, but over there they do things differently.

Click to enlarge.

And as for the gays - oh Mary, don't ask!


Thursday, September 15, 2022


Watch the continuous live stream from Westminster Hall without commentary
via Sky News here.

Apart from the first moments after I heard of the Queen's death, the magnitude of events since then has been too great to comprehend fully, and I have viewed the subsequent proceedings with dispassionate gaze. But I find that watching the live stream of mourners pausing by the Queen's coffin to pay their respects is a deeply moving spectacle. 

After a long, long wait to enter Westminster Hall, nearly everyone in the silent queue pauses by the royal bier to make some little homage to their late Sovereign: a bow, a curtsy, the sign of the cross, or some creative combination. People in line behind them pause patiently to let them do their thing before moving forward (do not try this in America). Members and veterans of HM Forces (I suppose; no one but the honour guard is in uniform) halt at attention facing the coffin, swing the right arm up in a stiffly proper salute, then turn on their heels and step off smartly. An astonishing number of Englishwomen (I suppose; I haven't checked their passports), old and young, do in fact know how to do a proper curtsy. Others do just a shy, quick bob, or blow a kiss as if seeing off a dear friend on a long journey. 

Folks with a vaguely Asian look do a thoughtful bow and gesture, holding the palms together before their faces, which for all I know might be a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist thing. One older man in a flowing tunic, of Levantine mien with a brilliant ponytail of snow-white hair and a full, trim beard to match, bows low to the Queen, and on rising blows a kiss with both hands and puts his palms together reverently:  all this done in one solemn, continuous, balletic movement that is a thing of beauty. Not a few young hipsters in skinny jeans and fashionable trainers pause to make a bow with all apparent reverence; one wonders if they have ever bowed to anyone or anything before. Old men and old ladies struggle out of wheelchairs to make their act of obeisance before the catafalque. Couples and families with children in tow line up two, four, or six abreast, and bow in unison. I've even seen a few folks actually genuflect on one knee as if before an icon, paying devout homage to the beloved Monarch. 

All this is even more moving when you recollect that every one of these folks has waited 8, 10, 12 hours, or more, and walked miles in sun and rain, some of them all through the night, just to make that one brief show of respect.  It was that important to them.  Like medieval pilgrims bound for the shrine of a favorite saint, they were determined to do it, no matter how long the way or painful the path.  If that is not love, then what is?

And if the dear old Queen is not a saint, who is?  Seventy years of unremitting, selfless service must surely count for something in Heaven, as it does on earth.
Turning from the sublime to the fabulous - curiously, I've noticed very few obvious gays in the crowds. They've gotten so embedded in society now, you can hardly tell them from the rest of the population, can you?  Amazing.  It really takes one to know one, anymore.  The gays were already out and proud in noticeable numbers when I was there in 1976, and some of them even cruised innocent, still-closeted me up and down, to my great embarrassment. (If I'd had more courage, I could have had a lot more fun during my stay; but never mind that now.  It's all Waterloo under the bridge.)  

I have seen only one or two male couples, and one or two female couples, which seems odd; but the straight guys have turned up in droves, singles, couples, and groups.  I've often noticed over the years, during the Queen's famous walkabouts, that the spectators are mostly all women, children, and the elderly, with very few manly men to be seen. (Except among the royal guardsmen, of course, who are generally splendid examples of British manhood.)  I had wondered in the back of my mind if showing up at royal occasions was not considered an effeminate thing over there. But these crowds pouring into Westminster Hall are chock-a-block with regular guys of all ages, kinds, and conditions, which says a lot about the British monarchy, and about this Monarch in particular. 

And still they file in, hour after hour, all ages, sexes, races and religions, to express with their hands and bodies what they can hardly say with their tongues. It is all quite touching, these myriads of ordinary men, women, and children from all walks and ways of life - together with some notables who joined the queue, such as Mrs. May and her husband, and the sports star David Beckham, who steadfastly waited in line, alone with no entourage, an appalling 13 hours - demonstrating not merely their respect but also their love for the longest-reigning queen in all history. The quiet, patient, dutiful, humble service of this Queen across threescore years and ten has struck a resounding chord with billions of hearts all around the world, who now know what it is they have lost, and mourn. 

Some members of Parliament in their tributes last weekend suggested various epithets for Her late Majesty: Elizabeth the Great, Elizabeth the Good, Elizabeth the Faithful, and so on. All of those have merit; but in my view, it would be most fitting if Elizabeth II went down in history as simply the Queen of Hearts.


Russ Recommends:  For most of my life it was quite rare to see the Queen on television except when there was a royal wedding or something.  But since the YouTube era began, many, many films and videos about the Queen and the royal family have been available.  Not all of them are worth watching; some made in recent years are simply exploitation flicks, little more than clickbait, full of errors, lies, and sensational gossip.  Nasty stuff designed to turn a quick buck.

But if you are unfamiliar with the Queen's life and reign - and wonder why she is so beloved by so many - here are three very well made documentaries I recommend highly.  (If you search around, you might find copies with even better video and sound qualities; these are what's available on YouTube.)

1.  Elizabeth R, 1992

Thirty years ago, the Queen allowed BBC cameras to record a full year of her life and work, from the fall of 1990 to the end of summer, 1991.  The Queen was about 64 then, a youthful, energetic grandmother, and an experienced monarch at the top of her game.  Most educational and enjoyable, with a lovely soundtrack to accompany a wide variety of public and private moments, and some voice-overs by Her Majesty herself.  Simply the best film about the Queen ever made.


 2. Windsor Castle: A Royal Year - The Banquet (Part 1 of 3), 1992

In 2005, the BBC again filmed a year in the Queen's life, this time centering on events in and around Windsor Castle, culminating in a state banquet for the President of France, the after-dinner entertainment being a command performance by the London cast of Les Miserables, of all things.  Which just goes to show what a great sense of humour the Queen had.

3.  The Queen:  A Life in Film - Duty and Destiny  (Part 1 of 9), 2008

This first episode summarizes the Queen's life from birth to coronation.  It features interviews with a number of courtiers, relatives, and friends of the Queen, and apart from the sometimes catty comments of self-appointed "royal experts," is a very informative piece of journalism.  All the other episodes are on YouTube as well, if you want to see them.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Lying in State

Watch the continuous live stream from Westminster Hall without commentary
via Sky News here.

In accordance with royal tradition, on Wednesday afternoon the coffin of Her Majesty the Queen, with the Imperial State Crown glittering on top, was brought from Buckingham Palace on a Royal Navy gun carriage to lie in state at Westminster Hall, erected by order of her ancestor, King William II, nearly a thousand years ago.  

The Queen was accompanied in the procession by a scarlet-coated guard of honor, followed on foot by the King, his brothers, sons, and other male relatives.  The Princess Royal walked next to her brother the King.  The rest of the royal ladies, including the Queen Consort and the Princess of Wales, were brought to the Hall by limousines via a different route.

After a short service of prayers by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster Abbey (directly across the street from the Hall), and a couple of musical offerings by the Choir of the Chapel Royal, a guard of honor took up positions around the casket, beginning the first of many vigil shifts that will go on continuously until Monday morning, the day of her state funeral.  

The Royal Family having departed, the doors were opened to a miles-long queue of what used to be called Her Majesty's loyal subjects (a taboo word now) and others from the Commonwealth and around the world.  Hundreds of thousands are expected to pay their respects in the next several days. 

The procession:


The service:


The BBC provides a helpful guide to events during the period of lying in state.

Here follow tributes to Her late Majesty by the former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom. 

Former Conservative Prime Minister (1990-1997) Sir John Major, a very fine man:


Former Labour Prime Minister (1997-2007) Sir Tony Blair:


Former Conservative Prime Minister (2010-2016) David Cameron:


Former Labour Prime Minister (2007-2010) Gordon Brown:


Former Conservative Prime Minister (2019-2022) Boris Johnson brilliantly delineates the qualities that made Elizabeth II a great monarch:


And former Conservative Prime Minister (2016-2019) Theresa May has the last laugh:



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Last Flight Home

Via Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster from Edinburgh and via hearse to Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty the Queen returned to her capital today for the last time.  The very model of a modern monarch was carried to her London home, the very model of a royal palace, through streets thickly lined with onlookers lighting the roadway with their teleophone lamps, a distinctly modern touch.  

(Who knew cell phones had flashlights?  I can't keep up with all this newfangled stuff.)

Entering the Palace courtyard, the hearse passed directly beneath the famous balcony where Her Majesty appeared so many times to acknowledge the cheers of her people.  What a marvel it is that the 19-year-old princess who stood there on V-E Day in 1945, beside her parents, sister, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was still with us and still going strong until just the other day.

Now she belongs to the ages.


The Queen's coffin will rest in the Bow Room of the Palace overnight, providing a private viewing her family, as well as for the 400+ staff.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, the coffin will be taken in a ceremonial procession from the Palace to Westminster Hall, where the Queen will lie in state until the morning of her funeral on Monday the 19th.  Members of the public numbering in the hundreds of thousands are expected to file past the bier to pay their respects.

H. R. H. the Princess Royal, who accompanied her mother's coffin every step of the way from Balmoral, has released this statement:

Click to enlarge.

On a lighter note, one of the Queen's personal protection officers (Americanese:  Secret Service agents) recounts a very humorous story of walking with the Queen across the Balmoral estate:

Country Life magazine recounts more happy memories of the smiling Queen here.

The BBC schedule of the events to come, including maps and pictures, can be found here.


Monday, September 12, 2022

Vigil for a Mother

The Queen's four children stood vigil around her coffin today in St. Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh.  The Queen will lie in rest there until tomorrow afternoon, when the coffin will be flown to London and rest overnight in Buckingham Palace until taken to Westminster Hall on Wednesday to lie in state until the morning of her funeral next Monday.


Earlier today, the King, accompanied by the Queen Consort, addressed the Scottish Parliament for the first time, after hearing loyal tributes to the late Queen from the Speaker and party leaders, all of which were excellent - except that of the Greens leader, who was a bit preachy.

Earlier still, the King began his long day likewise in Westminster Hall in London, where he heard the tributes and condolences expressed by the Speakers of the Lords and the Commons, and gave in reply his first speech to the assembled members of the national Parliament.

Click here for a helpful schedule of events in the week ahead of the Queen's funeral on Monday, September 19th.


Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Queen's Last Journey

A hearse bearing the Queen's coffin, draped in the Royal Standard, heads for Edinburgh.  Click to enlarge.

The globe-trotting Queen's final journey has begun, as her coffin is brought by car from Balmoral to Edinburgh, where it will lie in state, first overnight at Holyrood Palace,  and then for 24 hours at St. Giles' Cathedral, before being flown to London on Tuesday.  Watch the journey live on Sky News:


The Queen's funeral has been set for Monday, September 19th, in Westminster Abbey, with the final obsequies to be held at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.  A very helpful schedule of events, complete with pictures and maps, is found on the BBC website.


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Accession Proclamation of King Charles III

A quick summary of today's proceedings and pageantry at St. James's Palace in London:

If you have more time, below is a full account of the proceedings from the official website of the British Monarchy.  Of course, you can always use your right-arrow key to skip ahead through the dull bits - though some of those bits are quite fascinating, actually, if you know what you are looking at: the current Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Leader of His Majesty's Official Opposition, all six former Prime Ministers, together with bishops and archbishops, and all the company of (British political) Heaven mixing and mingling when they are not the center of attention.  

The proceedings in the Council chamber and in the Throne Room are are admirably led with perfect poise by the Rt. Hon. Penny Mordaunt, lately a candidate for Prime Minister, now Lord President of the Council.

The proclamation ceremony on the balcony abvove Friary Court is led by Garter King of Arms.

N, B. -- Today's ceremonies (which will be repeated elsewhere in the kingdom tomorrow) do not "make" Charles king - they are in no sense an "inauguration," and certainly not a "coronation," as I saw one wildly inaccurate news source report.  They merely proclaim him to be the rightful and lawful king, so there is no question in the public mind.  Charles became king in the very instant of his mother's death.  That is how inheritance works, for kings and for commoners.  The Sovereign always exists, without a moment's gap in continuity.  Hence the age-old saying:  The King (or Queen) is dead.  Long live the King.

When the time comes for his coronation, that ceremony likewise will not "make" Charles king - he is and has been fully and truly king from the first moment of his reign.  The coronation is a religious ceremony held to bless and sanctify the King, and provide an even greater, grander public affirmation of his right to rule according to law, with justice and mercy.  As no doubt we shall see sometime next year.

In our super-duper, oh-so-modern, allegedly democratic age, is all this ceremony necessary?  No, obviously not.  Is it a great treasure worth keeping after a thousand years' continuance, something to be honored, revered, and cherished?  I say, YES, as long as there are fit and worthy successors to the Crown, and a loyal, appreciative people to reign over.  (There is something to be said for a republic, too - it all depends on the history and character of a nation.)

Why?  You have only to look at the lifelong service of the late, beloved Queen, and the admiration of billions of people all around the world, for the answer.  Britain and her other realms and territories would have rocked and rumbled along without her at the top, as have even more former realms and territories.  But how nice it is to have a living, breathing person at the pinnacle to look up to - kind and just and impartial, the gracious focus of national unity, in good times and bad, the immovable center in the ever-changing whirl of politics and society.

Many people in the slimmed-down, skinny-pants modern world have decided that a hat is no longer a necessary article of clothing, a useless expense, a needless bother; but there are in fact still many occasions on which a hat is a very comfortable and useful thing, and it may even become part of one's identity.  The same might be said of a cap - or a Crown.

It is written:  He who would be the greatest of all must be the servant of all.  A fearsome calling; but to the envy of other nations, Britain has been blessed with a long succession of worthy kings and queens, and I hope always will be.  Despite the mindless speculations of silly commentators, I have no doubt that Charles will be a most excellent addition to the list - a chip off the old block, as it were - and William too, in the fullness of time.  They have it in their bones.

God save the King.


Friday, September 9, 2022

King Charles III Addresses the Nation

H. M. The King recorded his first address to the nation today at Buckingham Palace.  In it, he praised his late mother's steadfast devotion to duty and pledged likewise to reign during the remainder of his life.  He also announced that he has created his eldest son William Prince of Wales today.  The title is not hereditary, but is created anew by each sovereign for the heir to the throne.

The address was broadcast on British television at 6 p.m. London time.  An Accession Council will be held in St. James's Palace at 10 a.m. tomorrow, followed at 11 a.m. by a public ceremony to proclaim him King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Meanwhile, tributes to the Queen have appeared all around the world in public and private displays ranging from simple to stunning - an astonishing testimony to how widely and well she was loved.

BBC - In Pictures

The Guardian - In Pictures


Thursday, September 8, 2022

H. M. The Queen, 1926-2022

Queen Elizabeth II, 1952

The BBC reports:
Queen Elizabeth II, the UK's longest-serving monarch, has died at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.

She died peacefully on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish estate, where she had spent much of the summer.

The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.

Her son King Charles III said the death of his beloved mother was a "moment of great sadness" for him and his family and that her loss would be "deeply felt" around the world.

He said: "We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother."

God Save the King.

The BBC also reported that just before the official announcement of the Queen's demise, a rainbow appeared over the crowds gathered in front of Buckingham Palace.


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Britain's High-Speed Railway


A very interesting, well made report on the HS2 project currently under construction in Britain, eventually to link London with cities in the north of England. Of nearly equal interest is the studly presenter, a fine specimen of English manhood in its prime. 

Whether or not this enormous project will be worth the trouble and expense, I venture no judgment. But for those who care about the achievements of the past, here is a delightful little film on the Elizabethan, a train inaugurated in 1953 in honor of the Queen's coronation. It covered the 400 miles between London and Edinburgh in 6 1/2 hours nonstop, at an average speed of just over 60 miles an hour.  Pretty zippy, especially when you consider that there were no motorways (freeways) in Britain at the time.

Railfans will be pleased to note the measures used to minimize delays: track pans and a corridor tender.

The charm of a humorous, rhyming narrative is an added attraction.


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Sunday Drive: Five O'Clock World

Hope all my truckbuddies enjoy a happy, safe, and cool Labor Day. Here's a golden oldie from the Vogues, 1965:


Friday, September 2, 2022

Waitin' for the Weekend


Related Posts with Thumbnails