Mixed reactions over Queen’s funeral from Kiwis living in London

Colin Chinn in line to see the Queen lying-in-state, a wait that ultimately took him about six hours.

Self-proclaimed royalist Colin Chinn stood in line to see the Queen lying-in-state, a wait that ultimately took him about six hours.
Photo: RNZ/Jake McKee

New Zealanders in London are divided about the grandeur surrounding the Queen’s death.

While some are royalists and getting into the thick of the events, others do not really care and it is all just existing around them as life goes on.

Colin Chinn has been standing in line for more than two hours to see the Queen lying in state.

Keeping himself occupied listening to the radio through headphones, he does not know how much longer the wait will be: maybe two hours, likely more.

“It’s a little bit of history in the making and so I’ve got the day off today, so I thought ‘why not?’ and here I am.”

Chinn is a self-proclaimed royalist and fully supportive of all the efforts going into the commemorations.

He has lived in London for 20 years and said it felt good knowing he had a chance to see Her Majesty one last time.

He can remember her first tour to New Zealand in 1954, when his family waited on a West Coast road to see the new monarch.

It was a “great occasion then” for Hokitika, including having the Queen drive past his family’s farm, Chinn said.

Queue to see the Queen lying in state at at Westminster Hall.

Queue to see the Queen lying in state at at Westminster Hall.
Photo: Colin Chinn

Julia McCarthy-Fox is not technically a Kiwi – she’s British – but she is married to one and lives in New Zealand.

The proud royalist has flown back to London just for the occasion.

“I know you see a lot more if you watch it on television but sometimes you really do need to be there and I did need to be there because I have my story with my Queen,” she said.

McCarthy-Fox said she “absolutely” had moments of thinking making the journey was a crazy decision, but overall “knew it was the right thing to do”.

She had already visited the Queen lying in state – joining the kilometres-long line shortly after Her Majesty’s body arrived at Westminster Hall on Wednesday.

It took her more than seven hours to get inside.

She described it as a “beautiful” experience.

“You just get that tiny moment as you go past and you just ignore that anybody else is there, and then you kind of don’t want to go, then you kind of walk backwards the last little bit because you don’t want to lose sight of it [the coffin].”

Pallbearers from The Queen's Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II past Camilla, Queen Consort, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as they arrive at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster in London on 14 September, 2022, where the coffin will to Lie in State.

Pallbearers from The Queen’s Company carry the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Hall where the coffin will to Lie in State.
Photo: Oli Scarff / various sources / AFP

However there are others like Oliver Simon who said he felt indifferent to it all, and did not feel any connection to the Royal Family.

He had only been in the United Kingdom for 11 months, but said it had been a pretty strange week in the city.

Simon thought younger generations were more attuned than others to some of the historical negative impacts of the monarchy through colonisation.

“A lot of my friends have similar opinions and views as me, especially my British friends – they understand the impact the monarchy has had,” he said.

Alice Williams, who had been in London for close to a decade, was of a similar mindset.

She recognised the Royal Family was something close to many people’s hearts, and said it was important people have the right to mourn.

But it was “pretty concerning at the same time” that there was a cost of living crisis going on.

She highlighted that some food banks around the UK would close on Monday – the day of the funeral – because it is a public holiday.

“I feel like maybe a huge state funeral, costing millions and millions of pounds, is a little bit tone deaf at a time like this.”

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