ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – On a day full of historical significance and tradition, some people wanted to experience it with others.
“This is a historic moment and if you can, it’s best to be shared,” Tonya Olson said.
Olson is a regular at the Horse & Jockey, a British pub in St. Petersburg.
She and her mother, Ione, arrived before the sun came up Monday to watch Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral surrounded by English food and culture.
The Queen, the longest-reigning British monarch, died Sept. 8 at the age of 96.
“I’ve always had just a respect for the history and the tradition and the sense of duty of the family,” said Olson.
She also felt a bond with Queen Elizabeth II, due to their mutual love of horses.
Olson’s mother, Ione, was 9 years old at the time of the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
“She’s always kept track of Queen Elizabeth because they’re contemporaries,” Olson said.
The pub’s owner, Lea Doyle, is from Liverpool and was in the United Kingdom a week before the Queen’s death.
“I think it affected me and everybody I know in a way that I didn’t ever think it would,” he said.
He decided last week to open the pub at 5:45 a.m. for people to watch the funeral together, just like they had for royal weddings.
“Totally different vibe. It was more of a celebration with the weddings but obviously it is quite a somber occasion,” Doyle said.
As Doyle puts it, the Queen is as British as fish and chips itself.
The future, under King Charles and beyond, is unknown.
“It’s going to be a tough time for the royal family. Charles’ got some big boots to fill. He really does. I don’t know which way it will go. As for the fabric of society, the royal family, love them or loathe them, they’re there. They’ve been there for hundreds and hundreds of years. We have a lot of tourists who come to see them,” Doyle said.