Notes from Abroad: Queen for a Day

I have been in London for a little more than two weeks and it has been super-busy. I don’t even think I've had time to stop and process all that I've experienced, and I'm already at the halfway point. This past weekend was New York City’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade, and while I am sure the streets of Fifth Avenue were jam-packed with proud Puerto Ricans waving their flags, across the pond in London's St. James Park, I watched a different kind parade.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth celebrates her birthday (which is actually April 21) during the second Saturday in June with the Trooping of the Colours. This is an Ol’ Country tradition when the colours (flags) of the battalion were carried ("trooped") down the ranks so that they could be seen and recognized by the soldiers. The queen is honored with a parade, where she rides behind her royal procession in a carriage along St. James Park and the mall, and stops to salute her troops.

As an American, it was a bit awe-inspiring to see the queen riding along in her carriage, saluting her people. Ever the prim and proper lady, she looked lovely in her blue suit and hat. The pathway was packed with people desperate to get her photo. I felt like part of the paparazzi as I ran like mad to get the shot you see.

Being in London has given me a lot of perspective on culture and life. And while I have been longing for a little Latin Caribbean culture, I was grateful to take a part in such a celebration of pride, honor and tradition—exactly the same way I would’ve felt had I been home in New York City.