‘She’s the only queen I know’


The Bay Area is nearly 5,000 miles from Balmoral Castle, where Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday, but residents here felt the loss of the British monarch keenly, whether they were expatriates from the U.K. or Commonwealth countries or Americans who grew up seeing her as one of the few steady forces in a turbulent, ever-changing world.

“It’s the end of the era and the passing of the guard, given that she was born in the early 20th century and has passed on in the early 21st century,” said Rahul Nair, the Indian-born general manager of Sunnyvale’s Oxford Kitchen and Gastropub.

On the throne since 1952, the 96-year-old queen was Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

“She’s the only queen I know, and she’s a very prominent world figure who has not just touched our lives, she’s touched our history,” added Nair, who worked in Australia before immigrating to the United States 10 years ago. His Oxford Kitchen opened in 2016 to cater to the growing number of South Bay Anglophiles seeking a taste of contemporary, multi-ethnic British culture.

With the queen’s death, some Bay Area residents reflected on how the world has lost another link to the almost-vanished generation that fought World War II. Others praised her for helping to rebuild a battered Britain after that war and the loss of its empire and for guiding her country as it transformed its economy and first entered, then left, the European Union.

But most know the great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria as the matriarch of the British royal family. Under Elizabeth’s modernizing leadership, “The Firm” has grown into one of the most recognized institutions in the world, even as anti-monarchy sentiment roils the U.K. and Commonwealth countries where the queen remained head of state. The queen’s power long resided in her popularity. In a 2022 YouGov poll of British adults, she scored higher than Barack and Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama and members of her own family as the most popular public figure.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 8: Christopher Dean arranges a small memorial tp honor Queen Elizabeth in the front window of Crown and Crumpet, a tea room in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022. The Queen died today at the age of 96. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 8: Christopher Dean arranges a small memorial tp honor Queen Elizabeth in the front window of Crown and Crumpet, a tea room in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022. The Queen died today at the age of 96. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

“The world doesn’t feel so stable right now, and she’s always been such a stabilizing force,” said Christina Picetti, who runs Lovejoy’s Attic, the antiques shop associated with Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco. Portraits of the queen grace the tea room, and co-owner Celine O’Driscoll ordered new Union Jack flags and others bearing the queen’s image to hang in tribute.

“It makes you feel a little vulnerable, even if you’re not a fan of the British monarchy,” added Picetti, who is American.

Chris McKenna, the bar manager at San Francisco’s The Pig and the Whistle pub, admitted that he and his Catholic family, who are from Belfast, Northern Ireland, never felt much love for the royal family. Northern Ireland was the site of the deadly sectarian conflict known as The Troubles from the 1960s to 1998 and has long struggled against British rule.

“But the way I see it, somebody’s grandmother just died,” said McKenna who immigrated to the United States 20 years ago. “I can relate to that. It is a shame: She saw a lot, the U.K. entering the European Union and leaving the European Union. She’s been through 15 prime ministers.”

For Cyril Hackett, born in the Republic of Ireland, Elizabeth was not his sovereign, but the San Francisco Kezar Pub owner also is sad to see her go. He came to San Francisco in the 1980s to escape the Troubles and find better work in America, so when he saw that the queen visited Ireland in 2011, he developed newfound respect for her.

“She addressed some of the wrongs the English people have done to Ireland,” Hackett said. “So I appreciated it, and no one wants to see someone die. She was really loved across the world.”

Hackett expects that her son, who became King Charles III on Thursday, will have trouble commanding the same reverence his mother did.

“Let’s be honest, Prince — or King — Charles isn’t the most popular person,” Hackett said.  “He’s got big shoes to fill. I can’t imagine people will love him like they loved the queen.”

Kristen Scott, the co-owner of The Celtic Tea Shoppe in San Jose, expects there will be different reactions to the queen’s death among her English and Irish costumers. Her English customers were especially excited during the queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.

“I’m glad they were able to do the Jubilee when they did,” Scott said. “In a way, it was like a memorial while she was still alive. I think she was a remarkable lady.”

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 8: Christopher Dean arranges flowers in honor of the passing of Queen Elizabeth at his Crown and Crumpet tea room in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022. The Queen died today at the age of 96. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 8: Christopher Dean arranges flowers in honor of the passing of Queen Elizabeth at his Crown and Crumpet tea room in San Francisco, Calif., Thursday, Sep. 8, 2022. The Queen died today at the age of 96. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 

At another San Francisco tea shop, the Crown and Crumpet on Post Street, Michele Scanlon and her friend Kiley Brokaw paid tribute in the most British way possible — by enjoying tea and sandwiches while surrounded by the queen’s pictures.



Source link

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: