National

In Denver, Brits honor Queen Elizabeth with tea, crumpets and lots of tissues

DENVER — As thousands of people across London said goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II, a small group here paid their respects.

The assemblage, known affectionately as the “British Girls,” gathered with tea, crumpets and tissues to watch the Queen be laid to rest.

David Williams for The Washington Post

Union Jack flags line the sidewalk to the home of Sylvia Lambe, who is hosting the celebration.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

The event was hosted by Sylvia Lambe, who moved to Denver from London in 2016.

Lambe acknowledged that she had complicated feelings about the Queen.

“My parents are from former colonies that had British rule, whose people were subjugated and who fought for their independence against the British,” she said. “I understand and know the history and the Queen benefited from the colonization.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

Sylvia Lambe, right, brews some tea, a quintessential British cuppa.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

But, she added, she has also come to appreciate the monarch’s humanity, especially after she lost her own husband to a heart attack.

The queen is “interwoven into the tapestry of my life, whether I like it or not. Her legacy, as an individual, the fact that when she was 21 she said that whether my life is long or short, ‘I will give my life to my country,’ and she has honored that commitment.”

“That is the kind of thing I want to teach my children,” she added.

David Williams for The Washington Post

Members of the British Girls watch replays of Elizabeth's funeral.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

For Sandra Shayler, the meetup was a chance to reflect on the significance of the occasion with other Brits.

'I’m here to share something that is historic to us,” said Shayler, who moved to the United States from London in 1999. “The Queen has been part of my life forever, and I’m 60 next week.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

Tea, cakes and other sweets are some of the offerings at the event.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

Even the cupcakes are decked out in Union Jack flags.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

The women honored the queen’s life with Union Jack-covered tea pots, cupcakes and flags galore.

“I wanted to be around other Brits and celebrate her life,” Sian Kirwan said. “I’d love to be back in London obviously, but it’s just fantastic to be around other British women and celebrate her amazing life.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

Pieces of cake are cut.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

The pottery also show British pride.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

Nicky Flemming said the gathering was a chance to connect with fellow expats.

“When you’re abroad, you cling on to any support you can get, and we Brits in Denver support each other,” said Flemming, who moved to Denver nine years ago with her husband and three children.

David Williams for The Washington Post

It was an opportunity, too, to reflect on Elizabeth’s legacy.

“The queen is a woman who has always been in our lives,” she said. “She is an amazing, hard-working mother and grandmother. She is iconic. She is our country.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

As the women watch the service, they clutch mugs with British flags, or with British mottos like “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

Though the occasion is a chance to celebrate Elizabeth's life, a tissue is sometimes needed.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

“The thing I miss most about living in the U.K. is the history,” Flemming said. “I didn’t appreciate it when I was there. My kids went to a school in the U.K. where we celebrated their 450th anniversary ... their school [in Denver] is only 20 years old.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

The time difference made it impossible for the women to watch the service in real time — they would have had to gather around 4 a.m. So, they watched a replay instead.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

At the end, the British Girls offered a champagne toast in Elizabeth’s honor.

“The Queen was the strength of our nation,” said Louise Campbell-Blair. She was “strength for me as well. She meant everything. Everything that she stood for, her quality, her royalty, her humility, she was still so humble with it all.”

David Williams for The Washington Post

The British Girls toast to the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

David Williams for The Washington Post

David Williams for The Washington Post

More from the Post

Tracing Queen Elizabeth’s steps through the U.S.

Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II, through the years

The latest from The Washington Post

Credits

Photo editing and production by Natalia Jiménez. Editing by Amanda Erickson.