In Washington, British embassy becomes focus of Queen Elizabeth II tributes
By EKATERINA PECHENKINA and NOLAN CLANCY
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON - Mourners gathered at the British Embassy in Washington Friday to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II. For many, the queen, who died Thursday, was the only monarch they have ever known.
Some Washingtonians stopped in front of the embassy during their morning walks, while others made intentional visits. Guests signed a condolence book inside the embassy and left flowers or cards along a Union Jack emblem on Massachusetts Avenue.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden left their condolences in the embassy Thursday evening. Biden told reporters Friday that he planned to attend the queen’s funeral but “I don’t know what the details are yet.”
“I wanted to pay my respects to an icon, a wonderful woman and monarch who I respected all my life,” said Ellen Harmon, 71, of Alexandria, Virginia.
Harmon said the queen was always popular in her house growing up, and that she identified the queen with her parents.
“The connection with the country is through the queen, her presence, her speaking out. It’s always her as the center in my mind,” said Juanita Illera, of Alexandria, who visited the embassy with Harmon.
“Frankly, yesterday was sad for me because it reminded me of my father’s death. Two World War II-era people who suffered and came through and did their best and did good,” Harmon said.
“I’m here to pay condolences to my queen,” said Mark O’Neill, who grew up in the United States but had a British mother. He said he felt “deeply sad” when he heard of the 96-year-old queen’s death, although he expected it would happen sometime over the next few years.
“She meant everything. She was brilliant, she was compassionate,” O’Neill said.
Terri Miracle, who traveled to Washington from Xenia, Ohio, for a wedding, also went to the embassy to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. “She was, is and always will be an inspiration to people around the world,” Miracle said.
She brought a small doll with her and put it between the flowers on the Union Jack emblem.
“I've had her since I was about eight or 10 years old,” Miracle explained. “I've taken her everywhere I've moved. And I thought she should be here to honor Queen Elizabeth.”
Rushad Thomas, of Prince George’s County, Maryland, said he has been a fan of the queen and the royal family since he was in fourth grade, citing his love of history for his vested interest. He wore a “God Save The Queen” t-shirt to leave his condolences.
“I think she really left her mark on the institution,” Thomas said. “The fact that this feudal institution from a thousand years ago survives into the 21st century is largely due to her shepherding of it into the new millennium.”
Thomas visited London for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June, one of her last public appearances.
“It was great because it was such a big celebration of her life,” Thomas said. “We weren’t anticipating her death, but when she’s that old and she wasn’t able to participate in a lot of the celebrations, it was sort of like a big ‘thank you’ while she was still with us.”
“In the Black church we call it ‘Giving you your flowers while you are still living,’” Thomas added. “I feel like the Platinum Jubilee was giving her her flowers while she was still living.”
Mourners are invited to visit the embassy and sign the condolence book from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. again on Monday, or sign a virtual condolence book on the royal family’s website, www.royal.uk.
Isaiah Cummins, a freshman politics major at the Catholic University of America, was one of the early visitors to the embassy. He decided to go to the embassy Thursday afternoon, shortly after he heard the news of the queen’s passing.
He said he is thankful to be attending school in the nation's capital so he can witness important moments like this.
“When historical events go down, you're right where it all happens,” Cummins said.
Capital News Service Washington reporter Courtney Cohn contributed to this report.