Sunday, August 3, 2014

45 Days in London: Day 41

After a strawberry-and-whipped-cream laden breakfast at Wafflemeister, we got to Buckingham Palace nice and early to stake out our space outside the gates.

Ever since I was a little girl and my grandfather sang the Christopher Robin songs, I've wanted to see the Changing of the Guard. The Ernest Shepard illustrations in the songbook make the dream even more magical.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace. 
Christopher Robin went down with Alice. 

In all the times I've been to London, that has never worked out to see the changing of the guard until today. We loved the parade and the pageantry, the horses, the pennywhistles, the drummers and the marching band. Plus, what's not to love about red coats and tall black fur hats (unless you have to wear them in the summer in London!)?

Just before they make the official swap of fresh guards for sleepy ones, the band stands in front of the palace and plays a number or two. (Who knew?) Not sure whether this is for the queen's pleasure, or to gratify the crowd clamoring outside the gates. This morning they played a medley of numbers from the musical Les Miserables, which we thought was a little funny. Perhaps we were expecting something more regal? Or more British?
They exit to the right of the palace, and the crowds disperse.

From the palace we walked along St. James's Park to Trafalgar Square.

Just around the corner from the National Gallery is the
National Portrait Gallery. My favorite was the one of Paul McCartney, done by his brother's friend. (But for some reason I don't have a picture of it?)
The contemporary ones are by far the most fun, but it was also wonderful to see the faces of all those famous characters in British history, immortalized on canvas.

We went to Evensong at St Paul's this afternoon. I'd forgotten how stunning it is inside! It's also mind-blowing to think that there has been a church on that site since the year 600! While steeped in all that history and tradition, the service at St. Paul's was more liberal and progressive than at Westminster. No boy choir. Female pastor. Led almost entirely by women. It seemed to be all things green and fair trade and equal opportunity. Very interesting.

The sermon referred to a youtube video, where a young woman responded to some racist behavior (unaware that she was caught on camera) by asking, "Where is your great and loving heart?" She went on to plead for kindness, compassion, peace and healing. It prompted us all to look at the way we respond in heated situations, and how powerfully love can deescalate a tense situation.

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