A Royal Visit
For a portion of the last week, I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in the wonderful city of London. Having never travelled to the U.K., I was excited to make the trip to meet with a new CJP client and eager to stay the weekend, to take in the culturally rich city; after all, as Jen has wrote about in an earlier post, when presented with the opportunity to travel to new places for business, you have to take advantage of the opportunity and soak up the experience, even if only for a brief period of time.
So with inspiration and excitement, I set out to see the city once our business meetings had wrapped. And see it I did. I must have walked 12-15 miles over the course of a day-and-a-half. I have no doubt I had American tourist written all over my face, but I saw it all: the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Hyde and Green Parks, the London Eye, Covent Garden, The Globe Theatre and National Theatre, Trafalgar Square, Leadenhall Market, the Queen’s Walkway and the Tate Modern and National Gallery Museums. I took in traditional Fish n’ Chips at Kennedy’s (a must go for obvious reasons), a “bacon butty,” and Bangers and Mash at a local pub (with bitter beer out of a draw of course). Needless to say, I covered a lot of ground. But, the most fascinating part of my trip, bar none, was experiencing the Trooping of the Colour.
For those who are not familiar (and I wasn’t when I left the U.S. last week) this is an annual ceremony that celebrates the Queen’s birthday each year. Her Majesty appears, in-person, to observe a very elaborate royal salute and she consequently carries out an inspection of the troops. There is much pomp and circumstance. Thanks to some good luck, fortunate timing and being six feet tall, I was able to catch much of the ceremony, which included being just 20 feet away from Queen Elizabeth as she passed, in an open air, horse-drawn carriage along The Mall. I then managed a prime spot in the courtyard of Buckingham Palace when she emerged with Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton (Duchess of Cambridge), and other Royals, to wave to the 1,000+ person crowd and to take in the military flyover. It was simply a fascinating, interesting and breathtaking cultural experience.
As I took in the ceremony, I could not help but be struck by the adoration for the Queen and the royal family. Of course I knew this existed by virtue of the global fascination of William and Kate’s wedding only a couple of months ago, but to experience it firsthand was something else all together. Flags waving, young girls screaming, waving and crying like they were at a Justin Bieber concert, and adults watching in wonder; the scene was something very special and very different. If you juxtapose that with America where few, if any, political (or national) figures that elicit such uniform love and respect it was a reminder of the value of tradition, history and culture. We have our own traditions in the States, so I don’t say this to minimize that which we value, but only to say, it was fascinating to take in this festive experience.