A Nation in Mourning?

One month ago, Queen Elizabeth II died at her home in Balmoral, Scotland.

The world watched as the United Kingdom ceremonially mourned her death.

Images of queuing Brits were beamed around the world and our national media represented this occasion as if our nation(s) had only one opinion. 

For balance, I asked 3 good friends to answer identical questions on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

As usual, I want to give you a glimpse of the ‘real’ Scotland. I want you to get to know us through honest conversations. 

3 People Speak THEIR Truth

I selected my three friends because I thought they would each offer a fresh perspective on the event.

For example, I knew my friend Dave had actually worked in Buckingham Palace serving the Queen as Royal Palace Attendant. I already knew he had spent the day in mourning.

To put this into context, out of ALL my friends – he was the only one I was aware of who had done this. 

The other two I asked are internationals who have chosen Scotland to be their home.

I asked ‘Urszula’ because I learned some of her opinions on the monarchy during the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations earlier this year and found her candidness refreshing (again, this was another moment where the media spoke with one voice for the nation).

However, when she replied, I was sad to hear she now felt silenced and alienated by her opinions. She asked to use a false name because she feared another backlash from her local community (I guess that something happened around the Jubilee).

Both Urszula’s fears around contributing – and Katy‘s eye witness account of an arrest made during the funeral procession slightly shifted my purpose of writing this blog. 

I don’t say it often enough. I’m not just writing for English-learning internationals abroad to discover our culture. At Blue Noun Language Hub we support English learners here at home in Perthshire too.

Most recently that’s groups Ukrainian refugees, but we want to help everyone local who needs us.

Urszula and everyone else, please know that your languages, cultures and perspectives enrich Scotland.  

Defend Freedom of Speech & Opinion

Unfortunately, the ‘If you don’t like it then leave brigade’ is as loud as it ever was.

Unusually, over the last month, even I – a so-called ‘native’ Scot, have felt a tangible sense of ‘join in or keep quiet’ around the Queen’s death.  

I’m writing this blog to share the awareness: that is something many of our international community feel ALL the time. 

I hope this blog respects my friend Dave’s (and all others’) genuine grief, while also sharing an alternative portrait of this period of British history.

I do believe it needs to be told.

Question 1:


Yes, I took part in the mourning event of the late H.M The Queen Mother. I took part in the event as it was optional for all members of the Royal Household to attend or pay their respects if they wished. I attended out of respect for her as a member of the Household. 

I attended outside Buckingham Palace as the coffin passed. I also attended Westminster Abbey to see the coffin lying in state.

I felt very saddened by the event & her death.


I didn’t feel any sense of loss when Queen Elizabeth died, but I was impressed by the amount of attention given to the event. It seemed like the whole world was paying attention to the UK. And since the Queen died at Balmoral, for a few days that attention was focused on Scotland.

I felt excited to be living in Edinburgh and to see some of the events up close. I also felt uncomfortable. All the spectacle surrounding her death must have cost millions of pounds, at the same time as ordinary households are struggling to pay their energy bills. It seemed wrong somehow. 

The night after the day the Queen died, at about 9pm, Ian and I walked from our flat up to the Palace of Holyroodhouse which is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. 

People were leaving flowers, stuffed toys and letters against the railings. One from a child read “Thank you Queen I miss you” and there was a long letter that started “On behalf of the people of New Zealand.”

The crowd was quiet and respectful and we were ushered into a queue to file past the flowers.

There were about a dozen journalists there, kind of milling around. Some sat on the ground typing on their laptops, others talked into microphones and cameras.

Women in neat wool capes were standing by, looking like traditional British nannies. They appeared to be members of the Queen’s household staff and they were friendly and answered our questions.

There were army and police everywhere, but the atmosphere was quiet and friendly.

As I was taking a picture, one soldier joined me for a selfie!

We walked past St Giles Cathedral, where the Queen’s coffin was going to lie at rest, with police and official-looking people going in and out. 


No. As sad as it is for any person to die, this lady was not my relative so I don’t feel the need to say goodbye. 

Question 2:


I spent the day of the Queen’s funeral with my partner, as I had already booked the day off annual leave. I watched the vast majority of the coverage of the Queen’s funeral throughout the day.


On the day of the funeral, I spent the entire day watching the coverage on the BBC and texting my friends in America.

As a theatrical spectacle, it was amazing, and I was so impressed with the costumes and choreography. However, if you’d asked me if I thought the funeral and all the “show” around it was necessary or even desirable, I would say no.

I thought of “bread and circuses” – how the Romans kept the citizenry quiet and content. But in Britain today, with the skyrocketing cost of living and Brexit-induced shortages, there isn’t even bread, just a circus. 


I spend a nice day with my children – we painted their bedroom.

It makes me feel a bit uneasy to know that people are watching someone’s funeral on TV.

Question 3:


I discovered, how many people were affected by the Queen’s death, & how so many people came together to pay their respects.


The day the new King, Charles, arrived in Edinburgh, we watched on TV as he received the keys to the city and we were excited to see our local councillor, Susan Rea, in the delegation from the city greeting the King.

We then decided to walk up to the Royal Mile again and try to catch a glimpse of the procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles Cathedral. We took our place in the crowd on the pavement.

As the procession drew close, the crowd fell silent and we saw right in front of us, the hearse and the police on horseback, the soldiers in their dress uniforms including the Royal Company of Archers with their bows and arrows, and then on foot, the King, Princess Anne and Prince Edward, all in fancy dress uniforms and Prince Andrew in his plain suit.

As they passed, a young man in the crowd next to us shouted out “Andrew you’re a disgrace” and “You’re a sick old man.

Above us, leaning out of the windows, were young men all wearing suits out of respect for the event and they started loudly shouting “God save the King, God save the King” over and over in order to drown out the protestor. To be honest I found their shouting to be more offensive than the protestor!

After the procession passed, we quickly left the area, passing two police officers who were arresting the young man who shouted about Andrew.

I could not believe he was being arrested for simply shouting on a public street, and Ian said to the police, “you shouldn’t arrest him, he’s done nothing wrong.”

A couple we had been standing near said they thought it was wrong of the protestor to shout but agreed it was even more wrong for him to have been arrested.

Most people we spoke to afterwards agreed. As an American, I really value free speech. We later learned he had been charged but don’t know what happened to him after that. 

I thought about queuing to see the coffin lying at rest at St Giles but was put off by the idea that the queues were five or six hours long. Little did I know that in a few days hundreds of thousands in London would queue for 12 hours to see the coffin!

I did not know anyone here in Edinburgh or in London who queued or would have even considered it. They all thought it was mad to spend so much time just to see “a box with a flag on it.”


Yes, surprise is a very good word describing my feelings towards a situation where people (many of whom are not royalists) used their personal time to sit in front of TV to watch the funeral of someone unrelated to them because this person has a lot of money and for that reason is said to be more important than them.

As a citizen of Poland where we don’t have monarchy, I am unable to grasp the logic of this entire event however I have no personal dislike for people choosing to do this.

I was also very surprised that a lot of businesses were told to close that day and their employees lost an entire day of payment which in the current post-COVID and post-Brexit economic situation might mean a lot of money to some people – and possibly meaning providing heating for this winter.

Question 4:


I found that many if my friends, family & partner shared the same sentiments of the event.


My husband, Ian, and many of my friends in the UK are against the royal family and believe we shouldn’t have a monarchy. They also feel that the monarchy, as it is now, symbolizes the old British empire. The monarchy’s current wealth stems from the empire in some way, the royal family owes apologies and reparations for some of the atrocities that took place around the globe under British rule.

My friends in America are much more pro-monarchy and interested in the royal family and any gossip around them. 


I’m not sure, I tried to avoid this subject as I thought it might be argument prone.

Question 5:


I think the new king will bring many people together, & continue in his duty to preserve the Queen’s legacy, as well as striving to maintain the duties that are bestowed to him, and carry them out in the very best way he can.


Hopefully the end of this super-rich monarchy.

Money that this family gathered over hundreds of years by exploiting the very people they claim to protect should be restored to the people of the United Kingdom.

Especially during such economic difficulties.

Perhaps a modest model of monarchy could be adopted by this family following the example of many European royal families.

My concerns are that this September one very rich lady died due to an old age and the whole nation mourned her. This winter 1000’s of old ladies will die due to lack of money for heating and proper care and the whole nation will not even know about this.

Learn English Through Culture | About our English Language School

We’re an English language school based in Crieff in Scotland.

We offer bespoke English language immersion holidays. One of our priorities is giving our guests ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ experiences of Scotland. 

Of course, we’re well aware of the contradictions inherent in showing people the ‘real’ Scotland.

As soon as it’s on display, it’s no longer ‘real’. It’s curated. 

However, we introduce you to lots of ‘invisible’ and ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspects – and let you form your own opinions on things.


Essentially, our goal is not to reduce any part of our culture  – or tell you what to think and like – but to show you, as much as we can, the things that we love.

Ruth, 2022

Immersion English Holidays – With a Difference

Places and communities are infinitely complex. There’s so much to talk about!

The Blue Noun blog is intended to demonstrate some of the ways we try to share our culture and communities with you: and it’s not by telling you what to think – but by showing you things we love, mixed with some English learning tips and resources.   

On all our English conversation holidays, we introduce you to the people within Scotland, to hear their voices and stories – and discover their crafts, businesses, products and personalities.

Thank You!

My deepest gratitude to my friends Dave, Katy and ‘Urszula’ for taking the time to share their thoughts and feelings.

Further Information

Find out about Strathearn Welcome: A local community group created to support refugees: Fundraising, Information & Support.

Learn more here.