On Thursday morning, even before Queen Elizabeth II’s death, many New Yorkers began pouring in from Myers of Keswick, a small British grocery store in the heart of Hudson Street, on the hunt for tea towels, royal memorabilia, Cornish pies and other small signs. of Britishness to celebrate a historic moment.
And when the news of his death arrived by phone, Irene Donnolly, Irish and employee of the shop, after listening to “God Save the Queen” on the radio, she understood the right thing to do: she took the portrait of the queen framed on the wall, he caressed it with care and placed it in the window, between the hanging threads of the triangular festoons of the Union Jack.
“It’s the end of an era,” says Ms. Jennifer Myers-Pulidore, born in America to British parents and fourth-generation owner of the grocery store. “Working immersed in the English world – she adds – keeps alive the comforting bond with the land of my ancestors.” However, there is little that can console her after her sad announcement. “It’s a huge thing, I’m trying to mourn.”
England’s longest-serving monarch is mourned around the world as an unparalleled Source of constancy, whose reign has helped shape the modern world order and Britain’s colonial legacy. But in few places outside the UK has the commotion been as strong as in the United States, a distant former British colony that the monarch never ruled and which she only visited occasionally, but which still managed to fascinate, in a one way or another, for generations.
And Mrs Jennifer Myers-Pulidore confirms it, with a shy nod, when we reach her in the Little England area of the West Village. Where in these hours there is a surreal silence (despite being one of the most cheerful districts of the city) capable of making people understand in an acute way the vast participation in the pain that resounds all over the world. And he gives us a moving testimony of how New Yorkers, English-speaking and non-English, have reacted to this irreversible event.
Mrs. Jennifer, I take you back in time for a moment. Her business began way back in 1985 and has become an institution for New York’s former British patriot community. In the same year, a young Charles, now King Charles III, was visiting Italy together with Princess Diana and the Eighties also marked the beginning of a bond of friendship between the English sovereign and the American President Ronald Reagan. How does all this make you feel?
“Deeply sad. His majesty was forever. The line of continuity between past, present and future, the same one that is experienced in the history of the store. My great-grandfather started a butcher’s shop in Keswick, a small town in the English Lake District, which was succeeded by my grandfather, until my father had the courage to bring everything he had learned – about the ethics of the trade and the English culinary tradition. – in New York. Many of the techniques date back to the ancient family cookbooks and the photo that is displayed in the window on Hudson Street these days is the same that my grandfather put on display, in the grocery store, on the day of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, on 2 June. of 1953. In the ordinariness of his regency, as well as in the ordinariness of a modest profession, the history of a people and events like these remind us of it ”.
Many New Yorkers linked to Great Britain flocked to the shop to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth. Did this reaction surprise you?
“Yes, the tribute from New York’s Anglophiles as well as the neighborhood community is moving. Each in its own way externalizes this monumental loss. They come to offer their condolences and buy the commemorative items (of the Queen’s 95th birthday and Platinum Jubilee) still available in the shop. There are those who sneak in for a greeting and passers-by of different nationalities take pictures. Everyone feels the need to celebrate it, especially the British in New York who are many. You think my father did some research in 1983 and a British consulate representative informed him that there were about 250,000 British ex-patriots in the Tri-State Area. So, he decided to plant the seed in this city ”.
A store that brings the English memory back to the heart of New York is certainly a precious resource and these days it is even more so.
“New York is the city of a thousand souls and it is its multiculturalism that makes it special. I’m honest, such a solemn moment requires a port to anchor to as a mirror of identity. Most British people go into the shop to find comfort ”.
And do they console themselves with anything in particular?CopyAMP code.
“With pork pie and a cup of tea: quintessential British support food.”
Although the queen has never been a part of it, few people have been the protagonists of American life longer. In 70 years of service, Elizabeth served alongside 14 American presidents, starting with Harry Truman, sitting on the overseas throne for nearly a third of the history of the United States as an independent nation. Americans have always had a strong admiration for Queen Elizabeth II. Does her experience confirm this?
“Yes, there is a very strong love for the queen. For some, Elizabeth has remained the symbol of British imperialism. Many others see the monarchy as an anachronistic and costly institution. President Biden, who met the queen for the first time in 1982, called her “a statesman of unparalleled dignity and constancy”. Mayor Eric Adams has ordered the flags of all buildings in the city to be lowered to half mast and said he is joining in mourning. Both sides promised friendship and support to their son and successor, King Charles III. There is fidelity between the two nations ”.
A “special relationship” between the United States and England. The tens of millions of Americans who followed the marriage of Harry, Duke of Sussex, to the American actress Meghan Markle also validate it. What do they see in the monarchy?
“They are fascinated by the royal family. New Yorkers as well as Americans look at the British monarchy and idealize it. Meghan Markle embodied every American girl’s dream: to marry Prince Charming. The day before the wedding it was like Christmas in the shop. New Yorkers lined up all day to buy themed food and gadgets. A huge request, they caught me off guard. As well as the comings and goings of these terrible days, but the most desired product is – Strawberry Little Scarlet Conserve, Tiptree – the queen’s favorite jam ”.
Do you think the British people will be able to accept this loss?
“They will have to do it.”
Charles III was formally proclaimed the new king of the United Kingdom in an official ceremony at St. James’s Palace. Inheriting the throne of her mother, Elizabeth II, the longest-lived sovereign ever. A solemn funeral will take place on 19 September in Westminster Abbey. A thought for the future reign and ruler.
“He immediately stepped into the king’s shoes and many appreciated him. For the queen consort, the judgment has already been issued, it will take time. Many British-New Yorkers are not enthusiastic and have organized a prayer ceremony in remembrance of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, which will be held at Saint John’s In the Village on Sunday 18th September. I loved Princess Diana so much, and I don’t feel like adding more. The rest is history! “