April 9, 2021

GRAY SKIES OVER THE THAMES

The gray skies in this photo from our 1993 trip to London seem fitting today, with the announcement that Prince Philip has died. We enjoyed an afternoon boat tour along the Thames, giving us a new perspective of the historic city and bridges. 

During the pandemic I read Lara Maiklem’s Mudlarking: In Search of London’s Past Along the River Thames.She spoke of the rich history of centuries of life along this tidal river and the secrets it contains. The mudlarks scour the river’s muddy deposits along the foreshores to uncover and identify items from past centuries.  She has even found pieces of Roman pottery (maybe from the 4th or 5th century) there! When we took our short cruise along the Thames, I had no idea of the history that was being washed up with the tides.

Prince Philip was just 71 years old when we visited London—and today he died at Windsor Castle just two months short of his 100th birthday.  As a child, I was thrilled with newspaper photos of his courtship of Princess Elizabeth.  By the time they were married at Westminster Abbey in 1947, I began keeping a scrapbook about the Royal Family.  

For Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, I was thrilled to watch the televised highlights.  We didn’t own a television set then, but friends invited me to watch with them. There were no communications satellites or even videotape, and the event was filmed, with special jets ready to carry the films to Canada and the United States for broadcasting late that night

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then!  We’ve been able to watch live television coverage of many other royal weddings as well as Princess Diana’s funeral.  I don’t have any illusions left about the Royal Family, but still enjoy the pageantry and traditions. No one knows the inside story—but to me, it seems that Prince Philip spent over 70 years faithfully serving the Queen.  And now, for the first time since she was a 21-year-old princess, she will face the world without him. 

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