BILLINGS — Miranda McLaughlin flew out of Billings Logan International Airport on Sunday, Sept. 11, for a five-day trip to London. She booked her tickets months ago and never imagined she’d have a front-row seat to history.
Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 8. News of her passing was felt around the world, and everyday norms in the United Kingdom changed dramatically.
"Everyone is kind of overwhelmed here about everything that has gone on. Most people have never known any other monarchy here and they’re a little bit in shock at times. A lot of people that are in mourning, but many are already talking about the changeover and how that’s all going to go," McLaughlin said in a video interview with MTN News from London.
McLaughlin's stay in London and eventually Paris has proved to be different from what she expected.
"I think I got to see more than I would’ve had it just been any old week here in London. I think that I at first was kind of unsure of what to expect. But then, I thought the possibilities and opportunity to be a part of it kind of outweighed my thoughts of, oh, this may be a bad time to go," added McLaughlin.
She said the outpouring of love and emotion during this time has been a sight to behold.
"Everywhere you look there are pictures of her and places that are closed because of her. It’s been just overwhelming just how much she meant to her people here. The crowd situation has still been very heavy going through the garden with all of the memorial stuff and flowers…. It's overwhelming, I’m surprised that there’s a flower shop that has flowers left here," McLaughlin said.
The vibe in London is solemn, but the city has grown in size since she’s been there. Nearly a million people are expected to visit over the next four days. Despite the crowds, it's a moment that she'll remember forever.
"The amount of people that have come in since I checked into my hotel on Monday is unbelievable. Checking into the hotel there was hardly anyone here. The last couple of days it's doubled. But I would say I’m blessed to be here right now. Visiting here is something that I’ve always wanted to do," said McLaughlin.