LONDON – At Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral, during a solemn ceremony at Westminster Abbey between the royal family, heads of state and prime minister, there will be an 88-year-old London woman who has recorded audiobooks. for the blind and a man led a campaign to save his local football club near Manchester.
Along with Japanese dignitaries and emperors, the congregation will include nearly 200 people honored for various forms of public service this year as part of the the official celebration for the queen’s birthday, according to Buckingham Palace. Many of those on the guest list scrambled to help during the height of the coronavirus pandemic; Others have made an impression with various efforts to support their community over the years.
Natalie Queiroz, 46, of Birmingham, who became a knife crime campaigner after surviving a stabbing by her partner while pregnant, said she was walking her dog on September 10 when received a call from a hidden number.
“I thought it was a sales call and would ignore it,” she said. “Fortunately, I replied, and a very classy gentleman informed me that he was from the Cabinet Office” – the government agency that is coordinating the official mourning – “followed by an very elegant invitation.”
Ms. Queiroz works with victims of domestic abuse but also in schools, universities and other centers to explain the dangers of knife violence and help young people find ways out of these episodes. difficult passage. She said she was honored and overwhelmed to have the opportunity to attend the queen’s funeral, but she didn’t have anything to wear.
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The mandatory dress code, Ms. Queiroz said, is a black dress or suit and a black hat. The hat was the most challenging part, she said, but eventually found one online.
Ms Queiroz said: ‘I’m going to the queen’s funeral with a hat from the Amazon site.
Hsien Chew, 49, who lives in London and founded Proud Voices, a network of 55 LGBTQ+ choirs in the UK and Ireland, also received an invitation to attend the queen’s funeral, which he called a “special” great grace”.
“I have a question in my mind: ‘Why me? ,” he said in a phone call, after he paused a Strauss tune he was working on with his choir. He said it was probably intended to represent the different communities in England and how the country has changed during Elizabeth’s reign.
“She has seen a lot of fundamental changes to British society,” he said. “From a very strict, fairly conservative and hierarchical community to a more equitable community with more numbers and more recognised diversity.”
He was also surprised by the dress code.
Pranav Bhanot, 34, a lawyer in Essex who during the height of the pandemic provided free support to people whose lives have been disrupted by the virus and who helped distribute 1,200 free meals , said he was shocked when he received the invitation. “I didn’t expect it in a million years,” he said.
For him, the mix of funeral guests reflected the queen’s personality.
“She has the ability to connect very well with very ordinary members of the public,” Mr. Bhanot said. “And I consider myself a very ordinary member of the public.”
He describes his feelings as “mixed bittersweet” – a mixture of sadness and excitement.
“Being in the same room as the president of the United States is something I don’t quite understand yet,” Bhanot said.