'Can't stop crying': British expats in UAE bid tearful goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II

Residents remained glued to television sets and mobile phones for hours leading up to the announcement by Buckingham Palace



by

Nasreen Abdulla

/

Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 12:16 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 9:08 AM

British expats in the UAE are mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday aged 96. Many remained glued to their television sets and mobile phones for hours leading up to the announcement by Buckingham Palace.

Maxine Braddock, who has been living in the UAE for 13 years, broke down while speaking to Khaleej Times. After hearing the news of the Queen's demise, she tried to keep her composure as much as she could. Braddock says, “I have been glued to the television set since 5.30-6:00pm. I could anticipate that it was coming, but since the time I actually heard it, I have not been able to stop crying and am feeling so sad that I cannot express it in words.”

She adds, “The Queen has been like a rock, a pillar of strength and dignity, she was a strong woman who held everything together. I am deeply saddened.”

Senior royals had gathered at her Scottish estate in Balmoral Castle after concerns grew about her health earlier on Thursday. Her children and grandsons, William and Harry, had rushed to be by her side during her final hours.

File. The Queen interacting with British expats in Dubai during her 2010 UAE visit.
File. The Queen interacting with British expats in Dubai during her 2010 UAE visit.

British expat Lucy Davies was with her friends attending a dinner party when she heard the news. “We knew the Queen had been not keeping well for quite some time. But it’s such a sad day for everyone in the UK, for us here and people everywhere in the world. It is hard to believe that she is gone, especially because just the other day, she swore in Liz Truss as the new British Prime Minister. But a part of us also knew that after the demise of Prince Philip, who acted as her bulwark, she had lost her strength.”

Recalling a time when Lucy had an opportunity to see a glimpse of the Queen, she says, “I was 25 around that time working in London. The Queen’s vehicle just drove past me, and I saw her fleetingly. She will always hold a special place in our hearts because she was, after all, the longest reigning Monarch. The moment the news broke of her passing away, we were all messaging and texting our families and friends, alerting each other. It’s a huge loss for everyone.”

Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed accompanies Queen Elizabeth as she smiles at residents lining up to get a glimpse of her.
Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed accompanies Queen Elizabeth as she smiles at residents lining up to get a glimpse of her.

At her birth in 1926, Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was third in line to the throne behind her uncle and father. In 1952, at the age of 25, she ascended to the throne after the death of her father, King George VI.

Dubai resident Rhiannon Downie-Hurst said she was feeling absolutely gutted and had cried when she heard the news. “In a world of chaos and with the current state of the UK, the Queen was one consistent figure. Never wavering in her stoic leadership,” she said.

“A quote that is very fitting for our majesty is that dignity is not, perhaps, a quality we give much credit to these days but in the Queen, we had a visceral pull to all it means. She was gracious, dutiful, smiling, unruffled. It is not that she had no personality, far from it, but that she operated in public as something greater than herself and in an age of ‘self’ that’s quite a feat"

British expats gather to get a glimpse of the morach during her visit to the UAE in 2010.
British expats gather to get a glimpse of the morach during her visit to the UAE in 2010.

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Over her seven-decade long rule, she oversaw 15 Prime Ministers form government and serve in office, starting with Winston Churchill to the country's newest PM Liz Truss, whom she met on Tuesday. She held weekly audiences with her prime minister throughout her reign.

Aaron Rothwell, who was celebrating his 40th birthday today still finds it difficult to accept that it happened on his special day. “I am devastated. Condolences messages are pouring in from my friends who belong to different nationalities. She remains an inspiration to all of us, across the world. The UK and the people around the world have plunged into mourning today. It is a moment of greatest sadness for all.”

It was in February this year that the UK celebrated the Queen’s Platinum jubilee with much gusto. In her Accession Day message, she renewed her commitment to a lifetime of public service, which she had originally made in 1947.

“Growing up as a kid in the UK, the Queen was someone that was just always there,” remembered Paul Winick. “We often referred to her as the “nation's grandma”. We Brits loved her for many things, not only for her extraordinary services for our county and the commonwealth, but her dignity, grace, and charm. She will be sadly missed.”

After the death of the Queen, her eldest son Prince Charles, 73, heir to the throne since the age of three has now become the king and will rule under the name King Charles III. His son Prince William has now become the Duke of Cornwall, a title that Prince Charles was previously known by.

Another British resident Ananda Shakespeare mourned the loss of the Queen but chose to remain positive. “It’s a time to celebrate the service she gave to the country and Commonwealth and how she touched the world,” she said. “It’s a strange time for many citizens, as she has always been our head of state.”

The management of QE2, the cruise liner named after the British monarch, sent out its condolences at the news of her death. On its official Instagram page, it posted: “It is with great sorrow that we send our deepest condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty, The Queen.”

The liner, inaugurated, christened and held close to her heart by the Queen, is a floating luxury hotel at the Mina Rashid port in this city. During an earlier interview with Khaleej Times, the general manager of QE2 had said that every time the Queen came to Dubai, she would ask about the ship.

ALSO READ:


More news from UAE