Tuesday, September 30, 2008

London Royalty

We arrived in London on a Friday. On Tuesday the guys rode the tube early in the morning to save a place at the fence around Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. The women (daughter-in-law, granddaughter and me)took a taxi about an hour later. (In order to get a good place to stand, a person has to get to the Palace about two hours early.) Our taxi driver was from Afghanistan. He, like everyone we met, was interested in America and where we were from. When he found out our daughter-in-law's family lived in the country, he talked about the way he lived in his country. Contrary to the pictures we see of Afghanistan, there are areas there that are lush, green and productive. He said his family had 3000 fruit trees on their land. The farmers in his area have banded together and he said, "No one can come in. Not the government, not the military and not the Taliban. We are safe from the war." They must not let the press in either because we've never seen anything like that on television.

Reid and I stayed across the street so the other four could take their places at the fence at Buckingham. We visited with an interesting man from Spain who had never been out of his country. He wasn't even sure what was going to happen so we filled him in the best we could. After the changing of the guard, we toured the Queen's Mews (where she keeps her horses, cars, carriages), her gallery where she has numerous paintings of the masters and the State Rooms of the Palace. Afterwards we walked to Pizza Express to eat then Reid and I took the tube back to the hotel while the others did some more touring. That evening we were excited to be able to watch a shortened, yet complete, video of the Dallas vs Eagles football game.
Sometimes the best part of being away from home is hearing from home.

One part of this trip stood out to me, and that was the opulence of the monarchy. We saw it at the Palace and again at the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept. When you go into the area where the jewels and other golden pieces are stored, you are walking into a vault. Crowns, jewels, golden goblets and dishes, a huge punch bowl that surely can't be lifted without some mechanical apparatus--even the ladle would take several men to wield it--all within this room and absolutely useless.I think they take one of the crowns out when the Queen has to wear it. (I could go into a diatribe about how much "stuff" we all have that we don't use, but I'll just leave it at this.)If you know anything about the Tower of London, you know it was, among other things, a place of pain and passion, treachery and torture. English prince, Edward V and conspirator Guy Fawkes were imprisoned there as was a friend of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More. Having anything to do with Henry was perilous to one's health. His six wives are remembered thusly: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. His second wife, Ann Boleyn,was beheaded at the Tower. Execution inside the tower was a privilege for those in high rank. Makes a person glad they didn't live back then nor know any of these "important" people.

I imagine most Londoners don't pay much attention to the tourist places. I don't think most of them pay attention to the queen either. Kind of like right here at home.

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