Queen Elizabeth II’s Touching Decision Following the September 11 Terror Attacks

Queen Elizabeth II died on Sept. 9, drawing to a close the longest reign of a British monarch. For 70 years, the beloved queen reigned over the United Kingdom and developed close ties with other nations. A hearse carrying the queen departed her beloved summer estate on Sept. 11. It feels fitting; the world is mourning the loss of the queen but also the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The queen made a touching request following the attacks more than 20 years ago to show solidarity with the United States. 

Queen Elizabeth II broke with tradition and asked for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to be performed at the Changing of the Guard in 2001 

Following the 9/11 terror attacks on New York, Queen Elizabeth II opted to break protocol to bring comfort to Americans living and visiting the United Kingdom. In a show of solidarity, the queen ordered the American national anthem to be performed during the Changing of the Guard on Sept. 12, 2001. 

Queen Elizabeth II stands back after dedicating a wreath of flowers at the site of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack during her visit to New York July 6, 2010.
Queen Elizabeth II visits Ground Zero | LUCAS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The event marked the first time a foreign national anthem was performed at Buckingham Palace outside of state visits. The anthem was also performed during a memorial service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

The Coldstream Guards also performed the American national anthem on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks 

The United States’ national anthem was performed by the Coldstream Guards a second time. The second performance came in 2021 at Windsor Castle. The queen and other royal family members opted to mark the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 with another touching rendition of the anthem. Crowds gathered for the event. 

The Changing of the Guard, a highly-choreographed ceremony to relieve guards of their duties as others take over, is a massive draw for tourists. The event is seen by millions of people each year. A variety of different music generally accompanies the ceremonial event. Traditional music is often played, but pop songs and music made famous by television and movies are also mixed in. 

The queen visited ground zero in 2010

Queen Elizabeth II only visited New York City three times during her long and illustrious reign. Those visits were met with much enthusiasm, though. The queen’s first visit occurred in 1957 when she was in her early 30s. The queen, who had taken the throne just five years early, called the visit a “real tease,” according to the New York Times. She spent just 17 hours in the city but was greeted with much fanfare. She returned nearly two decades later to celebrate the bicentennial. Queen Elizabeth II visited Bloomingdale’s on that trip. 

On her final visit in 2010, the queen paid a visit to the site of the terror attacks. Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at the site to remember the lost lives. Her tour guide for the day, a city employee, remembered the queen as kind and someone who made those around her feel comfortable. Her visit, once again, was short. The queen and Prince Philip spent just five hours in the city. They were in town to open The Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden, a small plot of land tucked neatly into the corner of Hanover Square and Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan. The garden offers visitors a place to reflect and was commissioned in honor of the British nationals who died at the World Trade Center. 

In the wake of her death, makeshift memorials have popped up in New York City, including at the Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden. New Yorkers have also left flowers, cards, and other mementos at the British Consulate.

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