HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Several Hartsville residents were in England in May and early June to witness the Platinum Jubilee celebration for Queen Elizabeth, who died Thursday.
The Hartsville residents could see firsthand the country’s love for its queen. Phyllis Griggs and Wardie Sanders arrived in England on May 25. They first went to the Cotswolds. People in this region were preparing for her celebration, too.
Griggs said everyone was celebrating. There were displays in every window — hats, cutouts of the queen, banners. She said every little village was going to have a street party. The whole country was celebrating.
While both of them have been to England on other occasions, they agreed this one was special, and they would not take anything for the memories they made from this trip.
Sanders said it was a bucket list item.
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Even though they never got a clear view of Queen Elizabeth II, they did see other members of the royal family, including the new King Charles III.
“Everyone loved her,” Griggs said.
This recent visit only enhanced their opinions of her.
One description of Queen Elizabeth that most impressed them was she was “sustained by faith and driven by duty.”
“She had a strong faith,” Griggs said.
Sanders said the first time she went to England happened to be during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. When she was there in the 1980s, she said, the monarchy had lost some of its popularity but has gained it back over time.
“It did your heart good to see the tremendous outpouring of love for the queen,” Griggs said. “She was a unifying force.”
She said the people’s attitude toward King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort, has changed with time. Griggs said she observed that people seem to have a new respect for both of them.
The women said people they talked with were very positive about the new king. Griggs said he connects with the people.
“They have warmed up to him,” she said. “And they love Prince William.”
Camilla has won them over with her service to the community, she added.
While in England for the celebration, Griggs and Sanders watched the Trooping the Colour, They didn’t go to the service of thanksgiving, because they heard Queen Elizabeth was not going to attend.
They left before the big concert on June 4 at Buckingham Palace but did hear some of the stars rehearsing. Griggs said Sir Rod Stewart passed close by her.
Sanders said she went so far as to call about tickets for the queen’s funeral but they were too expensive at this time. They said are contemplating on going back for the coronation of King Charles.
Griggs said it is sad that the royal family has to grieve in public. They both said they feel like her death has hit them harder since they were recently in England for her celebration.
Matt Nelson, guidance counselor at Hartsville High School, and Cammie Dixon, a teacher, were also among those from Hartsville who were in England during the Platinum Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II.
Nelson said he arrived in the United Kingdom on May 29. He visited Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland as well. He was there for six weeks.
He said you could the feel the love and admiration for Queen Elizabeth. He said there was a lot of joy and celebrating. He saw that in Scotland and Wales, too.
Nelson said the queen’s skipping of some of the celebration events had people voicing concerns for her heath.
Nelson said he was a history major in college and took courses in British history and culture.
“They have a unique history,” he said “I have a lot of respect and admiration for what she did.”
When the news of the queen’s death was announced, Nelson said, he was at a conference. He said he had heard earlier in the day that she was under a doctor’s supervision.
“It was emotional and sad,” he said.
He said the English are very adamant about the royal family and held her in high regard.
Nelson said King Charles III will become the oldest person in British history to become king.
He said this time he saw more admiration for him than when he was England before.
Nelson said he thinks King Charles III will be more of a transitional king, paving the way for his son, Prince William, to become king. Nelson said King Charles will most likely be more visible and out among the people more.
Dixon said this was her first trip to England. It was a life-long dream.
“I am kind of a history buff,” she said.
She remembers the death of Princess Diana and remembers waking up in the night and crying.
She said Queen Elizabeth’s death is probably more emotional for her because she was in England this summer and there for the big celebration.
“I was so glad I got to go there this summer, not that she has passed away,” Dixon said.
She said there were crowds of people everywhere. Everyone she talked with admired the queen. She said they weren’t all British. She said people came from all over the world for the celebration.
“I feel like the British people loved her,” Dixon said.