First Stop of Exchange to Edinburgh: Queens Funeral

A semester abroad can bring many surprises. Lundagård's Kuzey Yanartas' exchange in Edinburgh began with the end of an era.

As Kuzey Yanartas arrives to
Edinburgh he’s met with images of
Queen Elizabeth II.
Photo: Kuzey Yanartas

As I try to find my luggage in the seemingly humble airport of Edinburgh, the first thing that welcomes me is a digital billboard of Her Majesty. It takes me a minute to realise that it is a mourning portrait and not the new Vogue cover. It is an uncanny feeling to move to a new country the day after their reigning monarch of 70 years dies.

I get on the bus to go to my new home for the next four months and watch the city from the window. Everything seems so grey. It is possible to see the queen’s face everywhere, from storefronts to bus stations, certain streets are closed to traffic and there is an abundance of police officers around the town. Nevertheless the city seems to be working ‘business as usual’ but there is a deafening silence.

I get off the bus and arrive at my dorm around the evening. The silence of the city is immediately juxtaposed with the shenanigans of my new dorm, The Pollocks Hall. Later on, I learn that this dorm has a reputation for being home to posh first-year students who are ready to party and drink their way through the first weeks of university. I do my best to socialise with people and, not so surprisingly, the queen does not seem to be the topic of any conversations. Well, except for the fact that the first day of university might be cancelled due to “royal complications”.

I tag along with a bunch of students who are eagerly making their way to a nightclub called the Liquid Room. After I wrestle my way through the long queue I find myself on the second floor of the club and watch the packed crowd getting “lit” to ABBA. The DJ seems more concerned with posting stories than actually DJ:ing and out of nowhere he turns the volume down and does a shoutout to the queen. Not everyone seems pleased with this shoutout as I see at least a few people “flipping the bird”.

The next morning, I pull myself out of bed and head to the ‘Societies Fair’, which is located in front of the beautiful McEwan Hall building. The fair takes place under a very large tent and it is possible to find all kinds of societies, there is even a society for hot chocolate enthusiasts. As I am leaving the tent, a table that is placed just outside of the tent catches my attention. It turns out that the table belongs to a communist student group who are selling their own newspaper. 

The student: “It is only 1 pound, also this is the only newspaper without the queen’s face on it.” 

Me: “But I am going to pay for it with a coin that has the queen’s face on it..”

The student: “Not for too long…”

People waiting in line to see the coffin.
Photo: Klara Heinis

I make my way to the main library, and I see a rather long queue which does not seem to have a definite beginning or an end. At first sight, I think it is a queue for one of the many free items you can find at the fair. I find the most approachable person in the queue and ask them why they are waiting in this annoying, ever-changing weather of Edinburgh. “We are waiting to see the coffin of Her Majesty.” says the lady. “The queue will be open for the next 32 hours, the average waiting time is 5-6 hours.” says the security guard as he is trying to prevent people from cutting the queue. 

In the end, it seems like some people deeply care about the passing of the queen and some could not be bothered. However there is no denying that the passing of the queen affects everyone’s life in some shape or form.