Marblehead residents Vicki Staveacre and Rhod Sharp were near Tucker’s Wharf when news of the death of their queen reached them.
“I just got a little ping from the BBC News, and I said, ‘Vicki, she is gone,'” said Sharp. “We just stopped right there.”
Sharp took his hat off, and the couple stood in silence for a minute.
Andrew Oliver, meanwhile, was behind the wheel. He had to pull over and collect himself.
“It felt almost like losing a parent, that link to one’s past,” said Oliver. “That sudden understanding that life would never be the same.”
Lynda Hare found out in a shared text among her children. One sent a broken-heart emoji, she said.
“We’ve got Union Jack flying out front,” said Hare on Friday. “It’s just been a sad day.”
A bereaved state
Marblehead’s British ex-pats found themselves in a bereaved state after Queen Elizabeth II died at Barmoral Castle, Scotland on Thursday. Her seven-decade reign overlapped with 14 United States presidents, seven popes and 15 prime ministers.
Staveacre said she had immense respect for Queen Elizabeth for carrying out her royal obligations to her country until the very end. Case in her point: The queen received Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral Castle on Tuesday, inviting the Conservative Party leader to become prime minister and form a new government.
“She was at service to her country even 36 hours before her death,” Staveacre said on Thursday night. “I was telling Rhod today, ‘I’m just so so amazingly happy I was around when she lived.'”
Sharp, a retired journalist and former host of BBC Radio 5 Live’s “Up All Night,” said the queen’s interest in “the ordinary Joe” gained her a favorable opinion among Britains and Americans.
“Quite often, she knew a lot more about what was going on in the country and what people were thinking than our prime ministers,” said Sharp. “She was just totally in touch, so in that way, I think she was totally relatable.”
President Joseph Biden spoke to the queen’s personal touch, too.
“She was the first British monarch to whom people all around the world could feel a personal and immediate connection,” said Biden. “Whether they heard her on the radio as a young princess speaking to the children of the United Kingdom, or gathered around their televisions for her coronation, or watched her final Christmas speech or her Platinum Jubilee on their phones.”
Sharp met the queen three times, including when he covered her majesty’s San Francisco visit in 1983 for the Glasgow Herald, and fondly recalled her sense of humor. He appreciated how present she was when she greeted her or saw her engage with others.
“The queen just gave you that sense of kindness,” said Sharp. “She was immensely caring for a second. She was right there.”
He said the other time he interacted with the queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, was during a dedication of a new library at his alma mater, the University of Aberdeen, on whose board he still service sits.
‘A states women of unmatched dignity and constancy’
Many political leaders leaned on Queen Elizabeth.
“That so many prime ministers later described their weekly meeting with her majesty as one of the highlights of their term of office,” Oliver said. “And her ability to express what so many people felt, as in her overheard remarks about the Climate Conference in Glasgow when she said: ‘It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.'”
For many in the United Kingdom and in the United States, there is no before Queen Elizabeth: She is all they have ever known. Still, Oliver is old enough to remember the queen’s coronation on June 2, 1953.
“No school, and we all received gifts,” he said. “A hard-back book and a collection of coins with her image.”
Lynda Hare and her husband, Paul, had “the privilege of a private audience” with Queen Elizabeth three times.
“She was extremely friendly,” said Lynda Hare. “She made you feel like you were talking to someone other than the queen.”
Paul Hare has had quite the career, including the queen’s appointment of him as Britain’s ambassador to Cuba from 2001 to 2004.
“She bestowed the order of Lieutenant of the Victorian Order on Paul,” said Lynda Hare. “We are proud to have called her our gracious queen for all our life.”
For his work to help end homelessness, Paul Hare nominated Oliver for a Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E) honor. Queen Elizabeth would bestow the honor upon him in 2014, and Oliver said he admired the queen’s stamina and professionalism when he received his honor at Buckingham Palace.
“Her majesty, aged 88, stood in one place for 75 minutes as she bestowed honors,” said Oliver. “And for each, she had specific questions about our service.”
He added, “As we mourn a great queen, we also say, ‘God save the king.'”