Queen's funeral service is broadcast to audiences at the RSC and Holy Trinity
Stratford was unusually quiet this morning (Monday) ahead of The Queen’s funeral.
With many shops and cafes closed, little traffic and hardly any visitors, the town felt as hushed as it did during the height of the first pandemic lockdown.
Two key institutions were open however, with the RSC and Holy Trinity both inviting local audiences to watch the funeral live on big screens.
Before the funeral began at 11am, RSC leaders, including acting artistic director Erica Whyman, executive director Catherine Mallyon and artistic director emeritus Gregory Doran, were among the mourners gathered on the theatre steps.
Mr Doran spoke of the need for people to come together during the time of national mourning.
He told the Herald: “The theatre represents that sense of a communal experience, and I think that’s what people are looking for: to be able to share this extraordinary moment.”
Inside a sold-out RST the audience sat quietly in the dark as a large projection screen took centre stage where normally actors would stand.
Down the road at Holy Trinity a smaller congregation gathered in the light and airy surroundings of the town’s parish church.
Although modest by comparison to Westminster Abbey, many of those present at Holy Trinity said being in a place of worship made The Queen’s funeral more real for them, almost as if they were at the service.
Revered Patrick Taylor told the Herald: “It felt like we were actually there. Being in the church and hearing the words and music we often hear here during services – I certainly felt I was really there.”
He added: “Being with other people really helps give us that sense that we’re all going through it together. And to be able to recognise how you feel in others is important: ‘It’s OK I can be upset now because other people are as well’. It is really supporting being part of a community and coming together.”
Another place of solemnity in the town was the Garden of Remembrance, where floral tributes to Her Majesty were lain beneath the war memorial. Members of the public have been placing flowers, cards and gifts at the Swan Fountain since The Queen’s death on 8th September, but they were all gathered together and placed at the memorial ahead of the funeral. Thereafter the town council said it would remove wrappings and compost the flowers.
For more coverage of The Queen’s funeral and tributes to her see Thursday’s Herald (22nd September).