Somewhere in London right now is a nameless, faceless bureaucrat punching tons above his weight class as he struggles mightily to corral monarchs, heads of state, and plenipotentiaries. Each of them is a petty king or queen in their own realm and unaccustomed to going second to anyone. But our bureaucrat will be responsible for ensuring their good behavior if only for an hour or two.
No one will ever know who he is or what he’s done… unless the wheels fall off and blame must find a home. Tomorrow the world will watch the spectacle of Britain honoring one of its most favored daughters. The watching world won’t know or care how the show was made or anything at all about the bureaucrat.
It’s cold comfort, but I’ll know. Or at least I’ll have the barest inkling of what’s gone into making sure the spectacle looks effortless. I’ll marvel at the effort, the sleepless nights, and the frenetic pace. Though you’ll remain forever unknown, I’ll salute you.
I had the chance, many years ago, to queue up and pass under the dome of the U.S. Capitol while Ronald Reagan lay in state. That line stretched through switchbacks down the Mall from the foot of the West Front stairs down towards the Washington Monument. The wait lasted 8 or 9 hours through the night. Coming out of the darkened and muted Capitol just as the sun was rising will be something I remember for the rest of my life.
That long ago queue was nothing compared to the lines now formed for those waiting to file into Westminster Hall and past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s the queue to end all queues. As I write this, the line stands somewhere around five miles long and has as estimated 14 hour through time from end to end. The Government attempted to pause new entries on Friday morning, but people kept coming on in a volume that almost implies there will need to a queue for those waiting to join the queue. It will certainly grow even longer as the weekend gets properly underway.
The queue, in all of its absurdist five mile glory, is almost the apotheosis of Britishness. It’s a sight to see, something to behold in its own right – the last mark of tribute to the late Sovereign from the people she served so long and so well.
I don’t tend to be someone who lives in regret, but I already know not jumping on a flight to London earlier this week and sorting out the rest of the details in transit will be a lingering regret of a lifetime. Timing, finances, and assorted personal responsibilities conspired to make that an impossible lift. Although my body remains firmly here in Cecil County today, my heart is most assuredly in the queue.