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June 20, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Westminster Abbey a new experience eight years later

Believe it or not, I’m glad I’m not 16 anymore. While I’m definitely thankful to be out of the flare jeans and clog days, it’s much more than that. At the age of 24 I can finally sightsee in London without needing to know the closest shopping locations (where, yes, I unfortunately could buy more flare jeans and clogs).

Westminster Abbey, London, England

Westminster Abbey, London, England

Case in point: Westminster Abbey. In 2004, the historic, beautiful abbey was cool for the first few minutes, until my attention span faded and I annoyingly stared down my family as they read and reread every historical signpost. Thank goodness my interests have changed, because this visit to Westminster Abbey, with eight years of maturing under my belt, I was the one reading every inscription and I was devastated when the audio guide/tour ended.

I’m sure my love for Philippa Gregory‘s historical fiction over the past few years has helped, because I’m now fascinated by the kings, queens and royals of the past. And when it comes to royal history, Westminster has more than enough to offer.

I felt transported back into one of my historical fiction books again (just like at Kensington Palace) when my knowledgable and handy audio tour guide explained that Queen Elizabeth I, buried on the right side in the eastern part of the abbey, is directly opposite  from her rival Mary Queen of Scots, buried in the left side. Queen Elizabeth I had banned Mary from the court due to competing religions, and then prohibited her body from being buried in the Westminster Abbey. But, when Elizabeth I died, Mary’s son, the new King James, had her body brought over to Westminster with a tomb just as ornate, if not more so, than Elizabeth I’s.

Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots are buried on left, opposite each other; Westminster Abbey, London, England

Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots are buried on left, opposite each other; Westminster Abbey, London, England

Fulfilling my appetite for royal family history, I spent the rest of the afternoon, audio guide in hand, wandering around Westminster Abbey and appreciating the building’s beauty, history and prominence (with no thoughts of how to escape to the closest H&M).

And because this has been my summer of the Queen (Jubilee, Trooping the Colour, and Ascot soon — I love it!), it was only fitting that the Abbey tour ended with an exhibit highlighting Queen Elizabeth II’s time at the Westminster Abbey. From little girl Elizabeth to Queen of England to proud grandmother at Will’s wedding, Queen Elizabeth II has worn many hats throughout her reign. And personally, I can’t wait to see which one she chooses for the Royal Ascot this Saturday.

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