The State Funeral of Her Majesty The Queen will take place at Westminster Abbey on Monday 19th September at 11:00 a.m. BST (here’s a guide from the BBC which outlines all the events from today leading up the funeral). If I were a Londoner, I suspect I would be getting away from the city to avoid the throngs of visitors who want to witness such a historical event. However, for those of us who prefer to stay away from the crowds, virtual worlds such as Second Life (which has always had a strong British community) offer another way to mark the occasion.
Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain [has] died…The reaction in Second Life has already started. At London City, a memorial was set up. It included a British flag at half staff, along with a crown on a pedestal with a flame at the base, a guestbook with candles, and three pictures that gave a slide-show of Queen Elizabeth over the years.
So I decided to pop into London City (website), a region of six sims which offers residential and business rentals, and has been a welcoming region for people new to Second Life for many years now. As you can see by the green dots indicating avatars on this map, it’s busy 24/7/365! People are commiserating with each other via both text and voice chat (I usually have voice chat turned off on my viewer; it’s much more common for avatars to use text chat to talk with each other in SL).
There are three large signs, each with a slideshow of images from the Queen’s life, a wreath, and a memorial flame.
Next to a set of votive candles (you can light one simply by clicking on it), there is a book of condolence which, if you click on it, you can add a message:
Nearby is a box where you can pick up a free memorial ribbon for your avatar to wear:
Like me, you may wish to come to London City, sign the book of condolence, and chat with other Second Life users around the world about the life and accomplishments of the Queen. Please check the official London City blog for updates on news and events in the region during this time of mourning.
I got the news over lunch at work, directly from the BBC website, that Queen Elizabeth II passed away. It is truly the end of an era.
I had known from the very first reports this morning, that this was possible, of course. However, it seems almost unreal to me that, a mere two days earlier, she was standing in Balmoral castle in Scotland, welcoming her fifteenth U.K. prime minister.
The BBC reported:
Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from empire to Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War and the U.K.’s entry into – and withdrawal from – the European Union.
Her reign spanned 15 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and including Liz Truss, born 101 years later in 1975, and appointed by the Queen earlier this week.
She held weekly audiences with her prime minister throughout her reign.
She made a famous promise in 1947 that her life would be spent in service to her nation and the Commonwealth, and she kept that vow until her dying day. She was not born to be queen; it was the unexpected abdication of her uncle David that jerked her family into the limelight, and she never really spent another day out of the spotlight. She served with honour and dignity, and never publicly complained.
Throughout her reign, the Queen spent an average of three hours a day “doing the boxes,” which meant reading the official documents sent to her by various government and state offices. She also met weekly with the British prime minister when Parliament was sitting. She knew better than anybody the progress of public affairs and how individual prime ministers had responded to particular situations and crises.
“Anyone who imagines that [these meetings] are a mere formality or confined to social niceties is quite wrong; they are quietly businesslike and Her Majesty brings to bear a formidable grasp of current issues and breadth of experience,” former prime minister Margaret Thatcher wrote in her memoirs. Those views were echoed by the late Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who wrote in his memoirs that he “was always impressed not only by the grace she displayed in public at all times, but the wisdom she showed in private conversation.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s life is a model of service and attention to duty. We shall not see her like again, I fear.
Today is officially day 707 since I first began working from home for my university on March 16th, 2020, and the number of days that I have been back on campus since then is still in the single digits. (I will finally be returning to campus full-time on February 28th, 2022, when all the University of Manitoba Libraries will reopen. The university has a mask mandate and a vaccine mandate, going so far as to deregister those students who have not uploaded proof of vaccination to a special website. They are not messing around!)
Here in my home province of Manitoba, our government has started to lift the public health restrictions that have been in place, despite the still-alarmingly high number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions of COVID-19 patients. A Feb. 11th provincial government news release stated:
New public health orders will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15 that will move all of Manitoba to the Yellow (Caution) level under the Pandemic Response System. Capacity limits will be eliminated in venues such as restaurants, licensed premises, entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor sporting events and casinos, as well as gatherings at private residences. Capacity limits will be removed for outdoor public gatherings but will be limited to 50 people indoors unless proof of vaccination is required. Young people ages 12 to 17 participating in indoor sports and recreation will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination or recent testing. There are no changes to retail and personal services.
As of Feb. 15, close contacts of a person who tests positive for COVID-19 will no longer be required to self-isolate. Public health continues to recommend self-isolation for people who live in a household with others who have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 but it will no longer be required.
As for me, I have essentially barricaded myself in my apartment since the start of the Omicron wave of the pandemic, only venturing out to visit my mother and stepfather (who also rarely leave their life-lease condo), and to pick up the groceries I order online via Walmart, picking a timeslot to avoid contact with other people as much as possible (Sunday mornings between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m.). I have also been wearing an N95 facemask every time I step out of my apartment, and practicing elaborate social distancing as much as possible.
Yes, I am so sick and tired of all this after seven hundred and seven days. Yes, I want this to be over as badly as the next person (although just declaring yourself “over COVID” ain’t going to make it happen!). But I honestly don’t believe that the pandemic is finished with us just yet, not when so much of the world’s population (especially in the poorer, Third World countries) hasn’t been vaccinated yet. There’s still too much chance of the coronavirus mutating again like it did with Omicron, and causing us to shut down all over again.
But I still want to evade the SARS-CoV-2 virus as long as possible, especially at a time when so many other people are getting sick, and Manitoba’s healthcare system is stretched to the limit! Because of my underlying health conditions (obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, and asthma), even though I am triple-vaccinated, I still worry that I would have a severe case of COVID-19 if I were to become infected.
Today, my mother telephoned me to tell me the news that I have been expecting but dreading: two people among my family in Alberta have developed COVID-19. Fortunately, although both are sick, they are not seriously ill, and are thankfully not experiencing any breathing difficulties. (In both cases, it has been like a very bad case of the flu, with muscle aches and pains. One has a sore throat.)
I know that eventually I will catch COVID-19. My goal in 2022 is to avoid getting COVID-19 as long as I possibly can, so that when I do get it, every single possible healthcare support is readily available to me, including a good supply of anti-viral medications like Paxlovid, just in case I do land up in a worst-case scenario. It is extremely unlikely that I will be in that situation, but I still so worry.
And if that means that I will still be face masking and social distancing long after other people stop (and getting most of my socialization needs met via social VR and virtual worlds!), then that is a price I am willing to pay for my own peace of mind.
She reminds me so much of my own beloved grandmother, who coincidentally was also named Elizabeth (she passed away well before the pandemic started). I would not call myself a monarchist by any stretch, but the Queen is still Canada’s head of state, and I wish her a speedy recovery.
Everybody’s getting COVID-19, it seems. It’s just a matter of when, and how bad.