UAE - The mood was sombre in the lobby of the cruise liner QE2 on Friday as several people turned up with flowers to pay tributes to Queen Elizabeth II. The British Embassy in Abu Dhabi announced on its Instagram page that the general public would be able to offer condolences at the QE2 from 10am to 6pm and advised people to expect queues.
“She was truly the queen of our hearts,” said Gary James, who has been living in the UAE for over three decades. “She was a big part of our life and it only felt right to come here and pay respect to her.” Gary had arrived with his wife Amanda to lay flowers at a bust of the Queen. “What I loved the most about the Queen was her decorum,” said Amanda. “She was a very private and reserved person. No big display of emotion.”
The world’s longest reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96 on Thursday. Senior royals had gathered at her Scottish estate in Balmoral after concerns grew about her health earlier in the day.
Inundated with calls since the news broke, the management of QE2 moved the bust from the ship’s first-class lounge — named the Queen’s Room — to the lobby so people could pay their respect.
The QE2 was inaugurated and held close to her heart by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1967, the Queen christened the ship after her own name in front of thousands of people who had lined the streets, eager to learn the name of the new vessel. “I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the second. May God bless her and all who sail in it,” she had announced.
“To be onboard this magnificent ship whilst learning of her majesty’s passing is so profound,” said Charlotte. “We will celebrate her long and wonderful life.” The Abu Dhabi resident had come to Dubai to spend a few days at the QE2.
Designed to be one of the fastest transatlantic ships, the QE2 was known for its style and opulence. Having hosted the Queen on several occasions, the liner arrived in Dubai in November 2008 to be converted into a floating luxury hotel at the Mina Rashid port.
British tourists Corin Hughes and Beverley Rogers arrived in Dubai on Wednesday for a brief vacation. “We came when we had the Queen as a monarch and we return to a King,” said Beverley. The duo had arrived at the lobby of the QE2 to lay flowers. “It is very unexpected, and we all will really miss her.”
Over her seven decades of rule, the Queen had witnessed some of the most significant changes in modern history, including the final days of the British empire and domestic scandals.
Australian Julie Bonollo had accompanied her British friend Karen Brannelly to lay some flowers at the Queen’s bust at the QE2. “My mother was a royalist, so I grew up with immense love for the Queen,” said Karen. “I am going to miss her presence and her being just her. She was an amazing woman who was kind, caring and very humorous.”
“She was our queen too,” said Julie. “Also, I think it is really the end of an era, so I felt it is befitting to come here and pay respect. She was a part of history. I doubt very much if there will be another leader like her. Through the good and bad times, she was the glue that held Britain together.”
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