The news Thursday of Queen Elizabeth II’s death at the age of 96 reverberated across the pond, with US flags lowered to half-staff in response, the Empire State Building illuminated in royal colors, and many Americans reflecting on her legacy.
“It’s the end of an era,” remarked Jose Reyes, 37, in New York’s bustling Time Square.
A large digital billboard nearby projected an image of a beaming queen, clad in one of her famous hats.
A few blocks away, the Empire State Building was illuminated after sunset in purple and silver to “honor the life and legacy of Her Majesty,” the historic skyscraper’s official Twitter account said.
The queen had stood at the top of the building over a half-century ago, when it was the tallest building in the world — a reflection of her reign’s historic 70-year length and the technological advances she’s born witness to.
Downtown, close to where George Washington was inaugurated as the first US president following America’s independence from Britain nearly 250 years ago, the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon observed a minute of silence.
In recognition of the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain, flags at federal buildings all across the country were ordered by President Joe Biden to be lowered to half-staff, where they will remain until the evening of the queen’s burial.
In the US capital, at 5:00 pm local time, bells at the Washington National Cathedral chimed 96 times, one for every year of the queen’s life.
Speaking to AFP in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, 26-year-old Drew said she saw the queen “in a positive view” due to her public appearances largely being “involved with charity,” despite other “negative aspects to the monarchy.”
“I definitely saw her as kind of a maternal figure” for her country,” Drew added.
“For many people, she’s the only Queen they’ve ever known their entire lives.”
Others were only slightly aware of the queen’s story, or had just heard about her recent family woes, especially regarding Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who have made California their new home.
On the West Coast, some remembered the monarch’s trademark noble image, maintained with utmost precision.
“She was an admirable woman, with a real sense of humor. She was always perfect, despite her mobility problems or the arguments within the royal family” said 45-year-old freelance TV producer Corrine Smith, outside an English pub in Santa Monica, where dozens of Brits gathered Thursday evening.
“We’re all gonna miss her,” Smith said, noting that she watches the Netflix series “The Crown,” which has played a major role in the revival of interest around the royal family in recent years.
“A star is dead,” said Gregg Donovan, dressed as a royal valet and carrying flowers to lay beneath the queen’s portrait at the pub.
The 62-year-old actor and tour guide said he thinks Queen Elizabeth II “should get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
“She was the most famous person in the world, after all.”