Jul072015

London 7 July Memorial Hyde Park Ten Years After

Our first day in London and we saw Prince William today. I now know what it feels like to stand around on Royal watch with the paparazzi.

Today is the ten year anniversary of the London terrorist attacks on the Underground trains and city bus on 7/7/2005. There were 52 people who lost their lives in the bombings and about 700 injured in the four suicide attacks on the London transport system. A formal memorial ceremony was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to commemorate ten years after. Another memorial service was held at the 7 July Memorial in Hyde Park, London.

We are staying at The May Fair London and the 7 July Memorial Hyde Park is about a 15 minute walk from the hotel. We walked over to attend the 2:30pm commemorative service. We heard on TV news that Prince William would be in attendance.

Kelley has always been a royal fan. She commissioned a one-of-a-kind handmade doll 20 years ago of Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana. A chance to see Prince William was on her London sightseeing bucket list.

Park Lane, London

Park Lane is the road that separates Hyde Park on the west side of the road from the Mayfair district of London on the east side of the road. It is a major artery for vehicle traffic in central London.

Park Lane London

Harmony is the Lorenzo Quinn sculpture unveiled in December 2014 in the Park Lane center green, across from the Dorchester Hotel.

‘I have always been attracted by the symbol of the yin and yang and that couples could see themselves reflected by their meanings.

Each person fills a space that the other was missing and therefore completing his companion. This creates a perfect harmony that is essential to every relationship.

Every relationship is the meeting of two worlds that become a whole.’

Lorenzo Quinn

7/7 Memorial Sculpture

The 7/7 Memorial Sculpture was visible across the street in Hyde Park as we stood in the center divide of Park Lane waiting for the pedestrian light. Also visible were scores of police officers and private security lining Park Lane near the Memorial.

News stations in the UK had reported all morning Prince William would be attending the 7/7 Memorial at 2:30pm in Hyde Park. We were not sure we could get anywhere near the service.

Hyde Park 7-7 Memorial

7/7 Memorial seen from Park Lane sidewalk. The embankment is designed to shield the memorial from the noise of Park Lane road traffic.

The Curzon Gate entrance to Hyde Park was closed to the public. This was the gate used for invited attendees to the memorial. We had to walk to another park entrance about one hundred yards south.

I was surprised to see so few people standing around the barricades separating the public from the ceremony access to the 7/7 Memorial. There were only about 200 public spectators during the entire service that lasted nearly 90 minutes, including the time Prince William spent after the ceremony meeting family members. There were fewer spectators than seated attendees for the service.

Hyde Park 7-7 flowers

The 7 July Memorial in Hyde Park is 52 stainless steel columns or stelae, one for each of the London bombing victims. Each stela is 3.5 meters in height. The stelae are grouped in four clusters to represent the four separate bomb attacks in London on 7/7/2005 at Tavistock Square (bus bomb), and Edgware Road, King’s Cross and Aldgate East tube stations. Each column is inscribed with the date, place and time of the bombing.

Wording_on_stela_of_7-7-2005_bombings_memorial_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1757654

Photo Credit: Wikimedia – David Hawgood

A separate plaque lists the names of the 52 victims.

Plaque_at_7-7-2005_bombings_memorial,_Hyde_Park_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1757634

Photo Credit: Wikimedia – David Hawgood

The word ‘stelae’ is one I first learned when visiting the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Berlin in 2013. A stela is an upright stone column, usually bearing a commemorative inscription.

The 7 July Memorial was unveiled July 7, 2009 in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles and victims’ families.

Prince William Arrives

The paparazzi standing around with 50 lb. cameras and lenses the size of a person’s head had me feeling camera envy. There was plenty of chatter and rapid fire clicking when Prince William arrived for the ceremony.

Prince William arrives   Prince William-1

The Rock Choir Made Me Cry

The TV news said the Rock Choir would perform at the Hyde Park 7/7 commemoration. Rock Choir brought to me images of Kate Bush, Robert Plant and Eric Clapton. The rock choir were not rock stars, however, the songs they sang were mostly familiar tunes to me and the rock choir made me cry.

The ceremony opened with the Rock Choir singing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now.

Oh but now old friends they’re acting strange,
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.

Joni Mitchell – Both Sides, Now

One of the women at the memorial was a tube train bombing survivor we recognized from interviews on morning TV. She said surviving the bombing gave her the drive to push herself and keep active and learning.

RockChoir

The Rock Choir www.rockchoir.com

The sound system speakers were set up facing the seated attendees and we could not hear the spoken word parts of the ceremony clearly. The Rock Choir performed five songs throughout the ceremony and their voices carried.

The Rock Choir blocked our line of sight to Prince William seated in the front row. I looked around and spotted a location about 50 meters away where I could see Prince William clearly.

Prince William-2

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at Hyde Park 7/7 Memorial.

Apparently, I had too clear a line of sight to Prince William as police came immediately after I snapped my photograph and moved me and a couple other people away. The area I had been standing for the photo was restricted from the public for the remainder of the service.

The Rock Choir sang Crowded House – Fall at Your Feet. That song brings tears to my eyes on a normal day. I started sniffling by this time.

Whenever I fall at your feet

You let your tears rain down on me

Whenever I touch your slow turning pain

The finger of blame has turned upon itself

And I’m more than willing to offer myself

Do you want my presence or need my help

Who knows where that might lead

I fall

Crowded House – Fall at Your Feet

Survivors Assistance Network

A woman walked around the crowd passing out cards prior to the memorial service for 7JulyAssistance.org.

Survivors Network

There was one Rock Choir song I did not recognize from the ceremony. The final two songs were Cyndi Lauper True Colors and Time After Time.

Show me a smile then,
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Cyndi Lauper – True Colors

If you’re lost you can look – and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you – I’ll be waiting
Time after time

Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time

The attendees had an opportunity to walk to the 7/7 Memorial and lay flowers and reflect.

7-7 memorial hugs

Afterwards, in silence, Prince William walked to the 7/7 Memorial and laid a flower beside the plaque.

Prince William-3

Prince William walks past 7/7 Memorial after laying flowers at plaque. Flowers resting against the stelae.

The ceremony ended and Prince William remained for another thirty minutes meeting with family members and attendees.

7-7 Memoial Hyde Park

7/7 Memorial Hyde Park on 7/7/2015.

May peace be with you always.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. A heartfelt thank you Ric.
    While I have lived in the USA for the past 33 years I am still as English as I ever. I was talking to a fellow countryman at the Hyatt Place in WPB this afternoon, when suddenly the realization hit me of what today was. We both went kind of into a shock as the memories came back. The staff around us started asking questions about the day and we shared what we could remember. It never really had occurred to me before that this was our 9/11.
    It gave us an opportunity to bond, reminisce and educate.
    Again thank you for sharing and more so, thank you for taking the time to to show your respect and participate, if only as an observer, on a very special and important anniversary of a very sad day.

  2. @Tim – Thank you.

    The song I did not recognize by Rock Choir was “Something Inside So Strong” by Labi Siffre, UK singer-songwriter that peaked at #4 in UK 1987. The song has been used in several human rights commercials.

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