Image of Queen Elizabeth II displayed in Times Square, New York on September 9, 2022 after her death at age 96 – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Ben Stansall
Celine GERE with Romain FONSEGRIVE in Santa Monica
Thursday’s news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death at 96 echoed across the pond as U.S. flags were half-mast in response, the Empire State Building lit up in royal colors, and many Americans reflected on her legacy.
“This is the end of an era,” remarked Jose Reyes, 37, in New York’s busy Times Square.
A large digital billboard nearby projected an image of a radiant queen wearing one of her famous hats.
A few blocks away, the Empire State Building was lit up after sunset in purple and silver to “honor the life and legacy of Her Majesty,” according to the historic skyscraper’s official Twitter account.
The Queen stood on top of the building more than half a century ago when it was the world’s tallest building – a reflection of her historic 70-year reign and the technological advances she was born to witness.
In downtown, not far from where George Washington was inaugurated as the first U.S. president since America gained independence from Britain nearly 250 years ago, the New York Stock Exchange observed a moment of silence on Thursday afternoon.
In recognition of the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain, President Joe Biden has ordered flags at half-staff on federal buildings across the country, where they will remain until the evening of the Queen’s funeral.
In the capital of the United States at 17:00 local time (21:00 GMT), the bells of the Washington National Cathedral rang 96 times, one for each year of the Queen’s life.
Speaking to AFP in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Drew, 26, said she saw the queen “in a positive light” because her public appearances were mostly “charitable” despite other “negative aspects of the monarchy.”
“I definitely saw her as sort of a mother figure” to my country,” Drew added.
“For a lot of people, she’s the only queen they’ve known all their lives.”
– “The Star is dead” –
Others knew little of the Queen’s history or had just heard of her recent family troubles, especially Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who have made California their new home.
On the West Coast, some remembered the monarch’s trademark noble image, which was maintained with the utmost precision.
“She was a wonderful woman with a real sense of humor. She has always been perfect, despite her mobility issues or royal family disputes,” freelance TV producer Corrine Smith, 45, said outside an English pub in Santa Monica where dozens of Britons gathered on Thursday night.
“We will all miss her,” Smith said, noting that she watches the Netflix series The Crown, which has been instrumental in resurrecting interest in the royal family in recent years.
“A star is dead,” said Gregg Donovan, dressed as a royal valet and carrying flowers to place under a portrait of the queen in a pub.
The 62-year-old actor and tour guide said he thought Queen Elizabeth II “should get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
“After all, she was the most famous person in the world.”