Shropshire mother and daughter London-bound to say farewell to Queen in person

As the nation descends on London for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, a Shropshire mother-and-daughter duo will make their own pilgrimage this weekend to pay their respects to the late monarch in person.

Katie Ozbirn and Rosemary Stone
Katie Ozbirn and Rosemary Stone

Katie Ozbirn, of Newport, plans to travel to the capital this weekend with her mother, who was born just two years before Elizabeth took the throne as a 25-year-old.

Katie, who is a nurse, has the small matter of helping her youngest daughter Lara celebrate her 18th birthday on Saturday night before rapidly cleaning up the aftermath in the morning and heading to Stafford to catch a booked train to London.

Mother and daughter will arrive in the capital on Sunday afternoon and prepare to pay their respects, with the late Queen's state funeral set to bring London to a standstill on Monday, September 19.

The Queen died at the Balmoral estate last Thursday aged 96, having reigned over the United Kingdom for more than 70 years.

Rosemary is 72, the same age as the Princess Royal, meaning she doesn't remember a time before Queen Elizabeth II sat on the throne.

Katie, 50, and her mother are making the journey together while her family stays home in Newport.

"My husband Dean, two daughters Emma and Lara and my son Zac are going to stay behind and watch it on television, it's what they would rather do," she said.

"I just know if I didn't go I would regret it forever.

"When we had the Platinum Jubilee celebrations we were saying we wished we had gone down.

"I think the crowds will be something to contend with. My mum is disabled and I think they have got special access for people who are disabled, and a special queue.

"My mum has a walker which extends out into a seat so she has that if it gets a bit much.

"We're quite lucky that my brother lives near Kensington in central London so we can stay there.

"I think we will be happy just to sit in one of the royal parks. They will have big screens up showing what's going on, I think that will be the best thing for my mum.

"We'll take in the... I don't know if atmosphere is the right word! We just have this feeling we want to be there.

"I expect I'm going to break down quite a lot. Everybody is going to be unified in grief.

"I remember I lived in London when Princess Diana died and you just found yourself talking to strangers and wanting to talk to strangers - in London, where it's not the kind of thing you normally do.

"It's having a feeling of togetherness. I imagine I will be very emotional.

"But I'm glad I've made the decision to go and pay my respects."

The two had originally planned to come back on Monday after the service concluded, but will travel back on Tuesday instead in the hopes of avoiding the worst of the crowds.

Katie had always loved the Queen but found herself surprised by the scale of the outpouring of grief, and of how simple messages in the unlikeliest of places have caught her off-guard.

"It's a real shock, it will be so sad. I can't believe how sad it has made us, even my husband.

"It stops you in your tracks.

"You will see something simple like the Arriva buses having their destinations and then the next message is 'Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, 1926 - 2022'.

"I really didn't think it would affect me as much as it has.

"I wouldn't say I'm a massive royalist, but I have always been proud to be British and proud of the Royal Family.

"We have family in America and it's affected them too, they've been sending condolences."

Since the sad news came through, Katie has found herself watching documentaries and poring over articles about the late Queen, in the hopes of learning more about the woman that has been a constant in her life and that of her mother.

"Even though you think you knew her, there's so much we didn't know about her.

"I'm watching all different kinds of programmes and learning about her as a woman, as a leader and as a mother."

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