On Day 6, #HoyasInUK gathered at 11am in front of the Buckingham Palace to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard. Instead of witnessing the regular ceremony, however, we were fortunate enough to have traveled to London the week before the official celebration of the Queen’s birthday. In preparation for the festivities due to take place the following Saturday, the Household Division troops were holding a parade dress rehearsal, wearing full uniforms, complete with bear hats, in the sweltering heat (by English standards). Having patiently waited outside of the palace along with a huge crowd of adoring Queen fans, we finally peaked the first guards around noon. As we soon learned, Prince William himself was participating in the event, formally known as the Colonel’s Review, and riding a white horse; we are certain that we absolutely did see and recognize Prince William in the procession.
After the parade, we headed over to the Westminster Abbey for a tour of the historic coronation and burial place of many royal persons. Before reaching the abbey, we stumbled upon a sizeable anti-Tory, anti-May protest on the lawn in front of the Westminster Palace. The crowd consisted primarily of young Labour Party supporters, although Green Party voters, the Antifascist Coalition clad in balaklavas, and even casual sunbathers also made appearances. Sean Paul (MPP '18) interviewed some participants for a #HoyasInUK Facebook live broadcast, while Justice Bennett (SFS '20) and C.C. Borzilleri (COL '19) recorded their conversations with protesters for the Fly On The Wall podcast.
As the protest winded down and slowly turned into a dance party, we continued on to our tour of the abbey. Westminster Abbey was built under Henry III to hold the body of King Edward the Confessor. Every monarch after him until 1760 was buried in the abbey. After 1760, however, Windsor became the primary place of burial. Beyond kings and queens, Westminster Abbey also houses the remains of many aristocrats, artists, and poets as Geoffrey Chaucer, Lord Byron, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin, and Isaac Newton, among other notable personalities. Although photos were technically not allowed, we managed to sneak in a few for our readers.
Our next stop after the abbey's closing was the Churchill War Rooms, located only a block down from the Westminster complex. During WWII, Churchill and his staff conducted all government and military operations from this underground bunker, intended at least in theory to shield the Prime Minister from German bombs. The War Rooms preserve the original furnishings of the era and contain a museum dedicated to Churchill’s life both before and during his term as Prime Minister. The War Rooms also include an underground café where food is served in dish ware reminiscent of the rationed war period.
To finish off our last full day in London, we had copious amounts of sushi at Eat Tokyo in Holborn.