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    A British Subject in San Francisco on the Passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II

    By Liam P. Mayclem–

    The date Thursday, September 8, 2022, shall forever be in my memory. I was on a plane heading from SFO to Denver when the news landed in my Twitter feed that the Queen’s doctors were concerned about Her Majesty’s health. We also learned that the immediate royal family had been summoned to Balmoral to be with her. I knew instantly that this really was not good. On Twitter I wrote this:

    “#QueenElizabeth 

    Britain’s steady, solid monarch Queen Elizabeth II, aged 96, has reigned supreme for 70 years. The time might be nigh for her to join her Prince on the other side.

    As family heads to Balmoral to be at her side, I cannot help but sit in gratitude for this incredible woman who has led with grace, purpose & duty all these years:

    15 U.K. Prime Ministers
    14 U.S. Presidents
    7 Popes
    30 corgis 
    HM QEII has lived through it all: from radio to TV to the internet age.  
    All prayers and love her majesty’s way.
    Long live the Queen.”

    By the end of my flight to Colorado, within two hours of that earlier news, came the inevitable statement from Buckingham Palace: The Queen is dead.

    Just like that, our constant, steady Queen was no more.

    I shed a few tears as I sat quietly alone in my seat on that plane, everyone around me engrossed in their books or movies. Quite bizarre.

    Though born in Westminster London, I was of Irish parents and later lived for almost a decade in Northern Ireland. We were not a royal household.

    Fast forward to the summer of 1986: I was a teenager and my best pal Mark Walker invited me to his Granny’s for a Royal Ascot tea party—he mentioned that the Queen would be trotting by in a horse and carriage on this quiet back road to the Royal Ascot races. The Queen and Prince Philip attended every year. 

    I thought Mark was joking about the royal passing until, like clockwork as promised at the stroke of noon, our Queen would be in our midst. And then came the moment, a loud rattle of teacups, then an instant hush on the row of packed green lawns along our street, followed by cheers of “hip, hip, hooray!” as HMQEII and Prince Philip clip-clopped by in an open top horse and carriage, doing the royal wave as they trotted by. There she was, my Queen with a smile and a twinkle in her eye that seemed to put a spell on every single person she passed. In that moment, I became a fan, and for a lifetime was impressed by her steadfast, unstinting commitment and duty to crown and country. I will treasure that day and that moment seeing the Queen in person. I am pretty sure she was waving just to me, thought 15-year-old Liam.

    On Monday, September 19, following a dozen days since the announcement of HMQEII’s death, we finally said goodbye.

    It’s been an emotional ride this week. All I really wanted to do was hop on a plane back home to the U.S. and say farewell in person. Alas, that was not possible. Instead, in grief, I have been chatting to U.K. pals and FaceTimed family (Charlotte, Scarlet & Veronica) as they made their pilgrimage to Buckingham Palace to say thank you and goodbye.  

    Everyone at home is a little shaken. Although the Queen had a long, wonderful life, the news of her passing came quickly. No one was really, fully prepared. That royal face that adorns our money, our stamps, part of our daily lives—our entire lives—is gone, forever. The hurt is palpable.

    It has been wonderful and stirring to watch all the pomp and pageantry these recent days. No country fully executes pomp better than the Brits, especially on moments like this, the passing of a monarch, the longest in British history, 70 glorious years. It’s been a mix of emotions, both gratitude and hurt. 

    Thank you, your Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, for always being there, for rising above the fray, for being our constant while all other things went south.

    Thank you. I shall be raising a gin & tonic in your honor today celebrating the past and looking forward to the future with your son as our king; arise King Charles III.

    The Queen is dead.

    Long live The King.

    Emmy Award-winning radio and television personality Liam Mayclem is regularly featured on KPIX as well as KCBS, where he is the popular Foodie Chap. Born in London, Mayclem is now at home in the Bay Area, where he lives with his husband, photographer Rick Camargo. For more information: https://www.bookliam.com/

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