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Long live the Queen!

Cearra Howey, Special to the Standard

It was already almost 25 degrees when my dad and I awoke around 5 a.m. on a sunny and hot July 4th, 2010. Although I would call myself a morning person, I am not a 5 a.m. morning person. This day was different, though. Why you ask? Well, we were going to Toronto to see the Queen!

My excitement and anticipation continuously grew during the drive into the city. By the time we got a spot along the barricades in front of the Cathedral Church of St. James around 8 a.m., I just couldn’t stand it any longer. As it was getting closer to the Queen’s arrival and 10:55 a.m., you could see more police and security arriving and a growing buzz in the crowd; I was certainly not immune to the increasing excitement. My little 12-year-old, royalty-shaped heart had never beaten so fast.

Sometime just before the Queen’s arrival, security teams moved the barricades out of the shade and directly in front of the sidewalk. This was when I knew my chances of actually seeing her Majesty had greatly increased. Not too long after, she finally arrived – right on time, mind you – and proceeded directly into the cathedral, much to my dismay.

However, as soon as the service was finished, the Queen came back out and started her “walkabout,” as we have seen her do so many times in the past 70 years, but this time? She was heading for me! The closer she got, the crowd surged forward, and I would not have been surprised if I got a few broken ribs, but the immense squeezing into the barricades was forgotten. What happened next will be burned into my mind for all eternity.

The Queen made it to my dad and me. When she made eye contact, smiled her regal but humbling smile, took the tulips we brought for her, and proceeded to touch my hand inadvertently, I thought for sure I was going to faint.

Now, I have always been a lover of her Majesty and the Monarchy, but to see her up close, touch her hand, and hear her speak to me, made her seem all the much more real and human, not just the most famous woman in the world, she was a person.

At the time, I knew that this was such a huge thing; I had met the Queen! But in the years since, as I have grown and matured, I have really come to understand just how significant that really was. My love for her Majesty has grown infinitely since that day, and this love will never fade.

After the death of Prince Philip, seeing the Queen mourn her husband’s passing, sitting alone in St. George’s chapel, my heart ached for her. Again, here was the most famous woman in the world, grieving, as I did for my own mom. I felt so connected to her Majesty in a way that I never thought possible. She was going through what I had gone through. At this time, she wasn’t a monarch or the head of state. She was a grieving widow, nothing more.

Now, as the Queen’s funeral preparations are underway, my heart is aching again. Aching for the loss of a monarch, the loss of the only Queen I have ever and will ever know, and finally, my heart aches for the loss of someone I considered a friend, someone who was always there. I am sure many around the world feel as I do. I am confident that our new King, Charles III, will rule with the same love and dedication as his late mother, but that does not ease my sorrow. Time is the only thing that will heal our hurting. My memories and love, though, will never fade. Thank you, your Majesty, for everything.

Now, as a new era begins, I suppose it is time we must say; long live the King. But please, God, do save the Queen.

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