Look: Hundreds of tearful UAE residents bid final adieu to Queen Elizabeth on board her beloved ship in Dubai

Over 300 British expats come together on the QE2 to watch the funeral of the late monarch



Photos: Shihab/KT
Photos: Shihab/KT
by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Mon 19 Sep 2022, 4:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 19 Sep 2022, 10:43 PM

As thousands of mourners poured into the streets of London to watch Queen Elizabeth II's coffin take a historic final journey, British expats in the UAE came together on Monday to mourn their beloved monarch.

"Don't cry Mommy," said little Lana as she hugged her mother, Joanna Akram, at the Queen's Grill in QE2. The mother and daughter were two of the over 300 guests on the cruise liner who had assembled to watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II live.

Some openly wiped away tears and others came wearing black and brought flowers as a sign of respect to Britain's longest-reigning sovereign.

Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 on September 8 at her beloved Scottish estate in Balmoral. After 10 days of public mourning, her funeral was held on Monday, September 19, at the Westminster Abbey — the same place where she got married and was crowned.

“I couldn’t be home in London so the QE2 was the next best thing we could do,” said Joanna Akram, who had come to the ship with her friends and their children. “It is a very emotional day for us. We wanted to bring our children so that we could create memories for them of the Queen we grew up with. I used to pass the Buckingham Palace everyday on my way to school and work throughout my life. So, essentially the Queen felt like a family member we hadn’t met.”

Lana, a Grade 5 student at Horizon School, said she had been dispersed from school early. “Our Queen died and so I came to watch the funeral with my mom,” she said.

“My friends and I brought our kids here so that we could create memories for them of the Queen that we grew up with,” Joanna added

The QE2 — a ship she christened and held close to her heart — was one of the closest links the UAE had to Queen Elizabeth II. The liner has placed a bust of the Queen in the lobby where people from all around the country have laid flowers and paid their respects.

Ever since her death, over 3,000 people have visited the ship, according to General Manager Ferghal Purcell. Although the liner had initially planned to screen the funeral at just one restaurant, a deluge of bookings got the hotel to expand the seating.

“The calls just kept coming,” Purcell said. “We got a sense that people wanted to watch the funeral from here. So, we set up all our restaurants including the Queen’s Grill, as it felt appropriate.“

He added that the occasion was extremely touching and emotional. “She is the Queen most of us have known all our lives,” he said. “She was a constant, and it is sad to let go of that. However, we here at QE2 also have a sense of pride to be so deeply connected to her.

Ananda Shakespeare said she felt like the QE2 was the most fitting place to pay her respects to the late monarch. “I reached the ship around a quarter to one,” she said. “I came with a few friends so that I could watch the funeral live.”

“It is a very strange and sad time as a British national,” she said. “I have never met the Queen, but she is like the nation’s grandmother. I think the new king has huge shoes to fill.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is one of the guests at the funeral. On Sunday, he met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace in London to offer his condolences.

Elsewhere in the UAE, Ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Moody, members of the British Embassy, the British community, Emiratis and residents of the UAE banded together at St. Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi for a commemoration requiem and a celebration of the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

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