God Save the King.
As those words were sung in Westminster Cathedral, followed by strains of bagpipes, the mood in the pub changed.
Drinks were ordered. Conversations started. Laughter could be heard.
We, along with about a half dozen other patrons, had been watching the queen’s funeral service from Westminster Abbey on television at the Prince’s Head pub in Richmond, Surrey. Before that, there had been only silence in the pub for the full hour.
Well, that’s not quite true. The pub had been as quiet as Westminster Abbey itself for 58 minutes until it was time for the two minutes of silence.
But as soon as the moment of silence began, the door to the pub opened and a very loud lady entered.
“Are you serving drinks?“ she shrieked loudly at the bartender. “I guess you’re not doing food?”
The bartender answered in hushed tones, hinting as best he could that the other patrons were honoring queen and country with 120 seconds of quiet.
“What about some pineapple juice,” she yelled even louder until she glanced around the pub at people shooting darts at her with their eyes.
With the loudmouth finally silenced, the memorial service was at an end, and life in Britain seemed to return to normal.
We thought long and hard about where to watch today’s service, and decided to head out to Richmond for several reasons:
We didn’t want to be caught up in the middle of the central London crowds. Yesterday was quite enough.
We were able to meet up with our nephew Jonathan and his fiancée Celine a few days before the wedding
We’re big Ted Lasso fans, and the Prince’s Head pub and the city of Richmond are featured in the TV show.
OK, maybe the Ted Lasso point seems a bit lame. But honestly, I’ve been to Richmond a few times and knew how charming the town is. Built right on the banks of the Thames with scores of usually bustling shops (closed today in observation of the queen’s funeral), Richmond is a lovely place to spend a day.
And Ted Lasso IS a really great show.
Seriously, having the company of Jonathan and Celine for a couple of hours made today incredibly special. Normal tourists do their sightseeing and shopping. This particular tourist just loves spending time with friends and family and taking in whatever tourist attractions we have time for.
We can’t wait for the wedding this weekend.
Our time in Richmond over, we headed home on the tube for an afternoon rest followed by dinner at a local Italian restaurant Da Mario, which turned out to be a good decision. Put it on your list for a few reasons.
Firstly, the food is out of this world. The Parma ham is flown in from Italy. The pasta dishes are generous and delicious. They embrace garlic. Bread is hot and satisfying. The wine pours are generous.
Secondly, the staff are incredibly friendly, telling us all about their lives before working at the restaurant. One waiter served in the Navy and worked in luxury hotels in Rome before moving to London. Our waitress was born in Albania and lived in Italy. In turn, they asked about our lives back in America. Just good people.
And thirdly, it was once Princess Diana’s local pizzeria when she was simply “Lady Di.” She’s memorialized in photos throughout the restaurant and has her name engraved in their steps. They are very proud of the association.
And why not. It was a day to celebrate royalty. Past, present and future.
God save the King.