Friday, May 23, 2014
Day 11, Just read it, you will not believe what happens.
So, today went a little differently than it was pitched, and no, I am not complaining. We were asked to dress up in, and the phrase was, “in our Sunday’s best,” with the plan for the day being New Scotland Yard. For those who do not know, New Scotland Yard is the head of the London Metropolitan Police. This department also works, in part, as the security for the Queen and the Prime Minister. So, this department is a big deal worth dressing up, but Sunday’s best may be pushing it. So we hop on the Tube (the subway system) and arrive at New Scotland Yard, then we were told there was a side trip. So, we took a hike through St. James Park, to a house I visited with some other students the previous day, Buckingham Palace. It was also about the same time, we arrived at 11:00AM, which is the time for the Changing of the Guards. Now, I heard the stories of the previous year, where they watched it from behind the gates. We wouldn’t be so lucky, right? I mean, we were with Constable Watson, the guy who is going to be retiring 1 year and 23 days from when this is posted (but who is counting) and he has been working for years with a lot of the royal events. With that said, the experience of going behind the gates especially for the Changing of the Guard, is not guaranteed. This must get worked out. Strings must get pulled, would lightning strike two years in a row? Would I have this much build up if it didn’t? So here I am behind the gates, close to the Palace watching the Changing of the Guard. Thankfully, this time there was a pamphlet, and the security watching us like hawks (can you blame them) were there explaining the proceedings to use. When you have someone there who knows what is happening explains it, it makes a lot more sense, and becomes more enjoyable. With that said it was still long. When it was all over, a motorcade drove up, and they said the Queen must be going somewhere. We insisted on staying so we could catch a glimpse of the Queen, they insisted to leave so we could stay on schedule. I wondered what could be so important.
10 Downing Street. Does that sound familiar? We went up to the door, and it is the British equivalent of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For those who do not know, this is the addressee of the Prime Minister. When we were told we need to keep on schedule earlier at the palace that is why. This is again something they did last year. Though, might I add for anyone doing this trip next year, again nothing is guaranteed. We do not know what the security threats will be, also we do not know how large the group will be. We do not know if Prince Charles will call anyone else Hitler, which apparently makes people mad. There is another cultural comparative. In the U.S., if the president has picture or posters with a Hitler mustache, it is becoming a rite of passage. In Russia, they get upset. With that being said, what could make this day better, and it is only 2:00PM.
Oh yeah, that’s right this is a Criminal Justice trip, and it was planned for us to go to New Scotland Yard, why not, let’s do that too. At this time, we met up with the group from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Here, we discussed the things that the Metropolitan Police Depart does. We then talked about the 2012 London Olympics and what they did to prepare for that. The entire thing ended with a light hearted comparison between police in the U.K. and police in the U.S. All in all, the talk was fun, and a good way to wrap up a good day.
One more quick note from Buckingham Palace. As we were watching the Changing, there was one thing they reminded us from time to time. This was these are guys from the British military, who agreed to do ceremonial duty. One of the officers said, some who are doing this today may have been doing a tour of duty recently. So anyone who watches the Queen’s Guard at any event should probably remember that.