An International Student of Literature in England.
Where do I even start? I saw Queen Elizabeth II at UEA today. I simply cannot believe it. Did I spend the whole day dreaming?
If you read my previous article (this one), you will know how excited I was about the Queen’s visit to UEA and the Sainsbury Centre and how much I hoped to see her. She’s a legend. I spend my time joking about the Queen with my housemate Olivia, saying that she’s English so she must know the Queen very well, that she probably comes around for tea regularly and we refer to her as “Lizzie” … These are all silly jokes, and I never thought that once in my life I would get to see Queen Elizabeth II. The whole situation seems almost absurd!
I filmed at various points this morning and also, obviously, when she was there! Here’s a video if you want to live or re-live this exciting moment.
I saw Queen Elizabeth II this morning when she arrived and left campus. And not only did I see her: but I’d been offered one of the most incredible opportunities of my life: being part of the UEA media for the event – basically on the first row. I did feel a bit like a VIP because of this, with the lanyard I was given, and also because I’d been told confidential information about her arrival time and all (feeling a bit proud right now)… What have I done for this? I’m not sure. I guess my “beautiful” Photoshop of the Queen and I worked wonders? But this was amazing and I can’t say how happy I was and am. I spent the week talking it with my family and housemates, updating them on the “Queen situation” tirelessly.
I normally have a seminar on Fridays from 9-12am and hate missing class so much but there was no way I was going to miss the Queen and this once in a lifetime chance! So this morning, I still headed to my seminar at 9am: I’d told my professor about it and that I’d need to leave at 10am for a briefing.
I was there at 10, registered and collected my lanyard (I was welcomed my lovely people!). And then I went to my spot and saw lots of people gathering near the Sainsbury Centre entrance. There were lots of police officers and security people too. Around 11:30… the Queen finally arrived! People were cheering and applauding. On my videos you can hear people say “Good morning your majesty” which made me smile. I was around lots of young children from local schools and they were all so excited and prepared for this. It reminded me of all the times I saw videos of the Queen on TV or in the news and thought “These English people are so crazy about her, it’s so weird!”. And this time, I was there among them! It’s a strange feeling. I actually felt a little bit like the time I met my idol, Steven Wilson, a prog-rock musician. Anyway, back to the Queen.
Her car arrived, followed by a few others. Two men dressed as Fijian warriors (she was coming to see the exhibition about Fiji, they were not just random guys in fancy dress) were waiting for her on either side of the red carpet. Another Fijian man was playing on a sort of Fijian bongo (I don’t know the exact terminology, sorry!). The Queen’s car, the first one, stopped, and then she got out. She was REALLY there. What really struck me was her smile: exactly the same one I’d see in many photographs of her. She slowly walked towards the Sainsbury Centre entrance and was greeted by several people. A little girl offered her some flowers. The best thing was that the sky was so grey and gloomy and as soon as she arrived… The sky was blue! A miracle! And then she got in the gallery and that was it. Well not quite, because I headed to where she was going to come out as soon as I managed to escape the crowd. Lots of other people headed there too: it wasn’t hard to see, there were lots of police officers and the cars she’d arrived with.
In the meantime I saw Clive Lewis, an MP for Norwich South, talking to kids outside! Remember this element of the story…
After waiting for the Queen for a while, a group of Fijian people gathered near the exit and started to sing. It was beautiful. Several people got out of the Sainsbury Centre, followed by the Queen. She got in her car, and left. The people kept singing for a while and it was almost moving.
I’d seen the Queeeeeeeen!
I know I’ll probably tell this story to everyone I meet for my entire life! I don’t even know if French people will believe me, haha. It just seems impossible from a French perspective.
I’m still super excited about everything, and above all, I feel lucky and I’m deeply grateful for all the people who said they read and liked my blog about the Queen and who helped make this day even more memorable by helping me prepare for today and by giving me a media visitor pass. Thank you 🙂
Today was crazy and memorable. I’m not a monarchy fanatic and I’m not even a UK or Commonwealth citizen but still can’t believe I saw her. Maybe that, along with my tea-addiction, makes me British now? 😛
(But back to Clive Lewis! I’m not sure why but my boyfriend is kinda obsessed with him and always tells me about him, saying I should love him because he’s “my” member of parliament and because I voted for him in 2015. I took a few pictures of him from a distance after the Queen got into the Sainsbury Centre and obviously told my boyfriend Clive Lewis was there. His reply was “If you take a selfie with him I’ll love you forever”. I accepted the challenge. Unfortunately, though, when I got out of the crowd he was nowhere to be seen.
After the Queen left campus, guess who I saw again?! CLIVE LEWIS! But I couldn’t really go to where he was because there was a party kind of thing going on with lots of people who looked important. I like to think I’m a good investigator though (aka amateur-stalker) and stayed around the Sainsbury Centre. Then I realised the Centre was open to the public again, so I went in to see what was going on… AND THERE HE WAS, EATING AT A TABLE! Bothering him during his lunch with other people would have been incredibly rude though so I waiting outside and then around the gallery.
At one point, I saw he was finally on his own, at the buffet! This was my chance. So I walked towards him and, like a kid, I managed to say “Hello Mr Lewis. Would it be okay if I took a photograph with you?”. I can’t stop laughing internally about this. He was soooo friendly tough and shook my hand, so I said my name and that I was a student here at UEA. Someone took a picture of us and I was very happy 😛 . “Where are you from,” he asked. I said I was French and he said “Don’t worry, I think EU citizens will be fine in the UK” which made me really happy because I’m obviously concerned about this. Let’s hope he was right! And so he shook my hand again to say bye, and I left with a massive smile on my face. This is the beginning of fame and success…
I can’t say how proud I was that I’d managed to get the picture my boyfriend asked for jokingly, haha.)
And so this unexpected meeting concluded the day. I rang my mother who was probably a million times more over-excited than me and told her everything! On the phone with my boyfriend I kept giggling like an idiot. Later I rang my grandmother and also told her everything. I also couldn’t resist messaging a few French friends and other family members with some photographs. 🙂 Now I just need to email my English teacher from college because without his amazing lessons I certainly wouldn’t be living in England and studying literature now.
I’m living the dream.