A Milford family was in England when Queen Elizabeth II died: ‘Pretty surreal’

MILFORD — A vacation in England turned into a brush with history for Carol Haase and her family.

The Milford native said she and her family arrived in London Sept. 8 — the day Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, died after 70 years on the throne at the age of 96.

“We got to London at 6 a.m., and it was announced around 6:30 that evening,” said Haase. “We so happened to be at the palace when she passed away, but we didn’t know she had passed away at the moment. We were there when the double rainbow came out.”

The palace announced she died at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland, where members of the royal family had rushed to her side after her health took a turn for the worse.

“When we arrived, it was very normal. But later on, we heard on the news the family was being called to Balmoral,” said Haase. “After we heard that, we didn’t think that was good that all the senior family members were being called. But we went about our business, and went down to Buckingham Palace.”

The next day, Haase and her family walked to St. James Palace, and they were the first ones there for the proclamation of King Charles III.

“It was pretty surreal,” said Haase. “Then we were walking by the Marble Arch in London and all of a sudden they started bringing out the royal horses to prepare them for the funeral.”

Haase said they had a tour booked for Friday to see Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

“The palace tour got canceled, so we decided to go down to the palace on this sad day with everyone else, and we so happen to be front row, center when the king and queen consort showed up to the palace,” she said. “They got out of the car right in front of us, and we didn’t get the pleasure of curtsying or shaking their hand, but they were right there. It was like we could reach out and touch them.”

Haase said it was a mixed bag of emotions for herself and her family.

“We blended in with everybody, and they were all chanting ‘God save the king,’ singing the anthem, and we joined into that, we just felt we were part of Britain, England and the Commonwealth and all of that, even though we are not, but we felt very much included. It hit all of us very hard, and it was unbelievable,” she said.

It is still hard to believe for Haase how she and her family found themselves in the middle of everything when visiting England.

“You can’t make this up,” she said. “My family is somber, like everyone else, and they just can’t believe what they are seeing. It’s not what we expect at all coming here.”

She said the experience of being in England for a generational moment in history was hard to put into words.

“You kind of had to be here,” she said. “I think this will be with us for the rest of our lives, and it’s something my children can tell their children — that they were there when Queen Elizabeth passed away and when King Charles was proclaimed. It’s going to be something they and I will remember for the rest of our lives and be embedded in our heads for a long time.”