Wednesday, September 27

Mourning on the Costa del Sol, home to 50,000 Britons: “Many of us have loved the monarchy for the queen”

Elizabeth II was crowned in London on June 2, 1953, and Ann Bowles was there that day. She not in Westminster Abbey, but on the asphalt, celebrating the beginning of a reign that ended up becoming the longest in the long history of the British Monarchy. “I used to live in Twickenham [en el área metropolitana de Londres]. All the children in the school put their names in a box and twenty lucky ones went to the coronation. There we were hundreds, hundreds, hundreds… and she passed by in a golden carriage”. If there is any fairy tale monarchy left, this is it. Seventy years have passed, Bowles is now 83, and this Friday they have decorated the shop window of the Mijas Lions Club with regards in honor of the queen. With her goes, he says, something more than a monarch: “We are sad. He was like a relative of the family.”

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She is one of the 9,000 Britons who live in Mijas, whose City Council will send a letter of condolences. There are 53,500 in the province of Malaga (only surpassed by Alicante), to which are added many others who come and go. And although some point to the scandals of the Royal Family, its cost or even the very acceptance of the Crown as a political system, no one among those consulted puts a but to the last queen of her. “I, and I think many others, have loved the monarchy for the Queen,” admits John Shackleton, who turns 84 this Friday: “She has been perfect: a lady, as well as a queen.” “I think she loved it because she was a good person,” says Shackleton. “Her main achievement of hers was herself, humble and honest. And she didn’t have any money in Saudi Arabia.”

“I am not a monarchist, but I am in favor of the queen, who has been a great advantage for the United Kingdom due to her personality”, summarizes Liz Parry, awarded a few years ago with the British Empire Medal for services rendered to her compatriots as editor of Sur in English. Parry was presented with the medal by the ambassador, and he also had the privilege of doing something very British in the most British place possible: tea at Buckingham Palace. She saw the queen from afar, but today she remembers that she made a fabulous “cucumber sandwich”.

“They always fail, but she never failed at anything”

Most appreciated the queen not for her very British recipes, but for her qualities as a monarch. “I think she was always so faithful to the sense of duty that she has fulfilled everything she promised when she assumed the reign,” says Bruce McIntyre, former British consul in Malaga and today president of the Board of Trustees of the English Cemetery Foundation. “For a character of this nature it is something almost unknown: they always fail, but she has never failed at anything. As we British say: ”she has never put the wrong foot”.

“People loved her because she proved to be very capable of getting into the crowd, despite the security restrictions. And whenever there was a reception she tried to talk to everyone, even if it was for a moment, ”she adds. Another trait: while she was queen, she had the ability, say the British, to show herself as a mother and grandmother. “She has always shown that she knows what a family is,” says Margery Taylor, who lived in Windsor for years and has lived on the Costa del Sol for two decades. Royal British Legion, to which it belongs (there are 3,000 in Andalusia), will observe a minute of silence at its meeting this Friday in Mijas. The consulate in Malaga will open a book of condolences (Eurocom Building, Calle Mauricio Moro Pareto, 2, 2º).

Elizabeth II also had a subtle sense of humor. Her appearance is remembered in Paddington (2014) or the alleged descent of the helicopter accompanied by James Bond at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. McIntyre, who once worked in the diplomatic service, has an anecdote of his own. Reception in Puerto Lázaro Cárdenas (Mexico). In the first row, the Mexican authorities. The queen, following protocol, is greeted first by each dignitary and then by her companion (almost always the wife), walking down the row from left to right. In the second row, the British wait, placed to salute in the same order, but in the opposite direction: from right to left. However, once the first row is finished, the Queen decides to retrace her steps to start again on the left, while she smiles between mischievous and malicious. And that becomes a colossal dislocation, a stressed couple dance, because to comply with the protocol everyone has to exchange positions: “I’m sure she did it on purpose!”, Remembers the former consul.

British phlegm also allowed him to ride elegantly on his forced neutrality, as Liz Parry recalls: “When he went out to Parliament in the days of Brexit, he dressed in a blue hat with gold stars.” A probable nod to the European flag.

“I had no money in Saudi Arabia”

Elizabeth II reigned for so long that you have to be over seventy to have known something else. It seems that her presence was taken for granted, and the shock has been greater because just two days ago she received the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, without apparent signs that presaged his almost immediate death. He reigned until the last day. “Once he put on the crown he said that he would never give up until he died. She never left us, and that’s why people love her, ”says Bowles.

About the new king, everyone agrees that it will not be easy for him. To begin with, Carlos III will have to adapt his personality to his new condition. “He is more controversial and it seems that he likes to be in the news. When he was just a prince he could do certain things, but as Head of State he has to keep everyone happy, ”warns Ann Bowles. John Shackleton believes that from now on the Royal Family will not overlook aspects that the popularity of the queen hid. For example, the scandals (“Prince Andrew -linked to the plot of sexual abuse orchestrated by Jeffrey Epstein- is going to go through a firing squad”) or the economic cost itself: “If they do not represent the country well, why Are we going to pay for private flights?

With Isabel II, the last great protagonist of the 20th century and the paradigm of a successful monarchical model also left. “It is the end of an era. Although she was so old, we thought that she would live forever, ”says the former consul. “We have loved her very much for a long time,” summarizes Bowles, who seventy years ago saw her pass by on a float. They also loved her because she was always there.