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A Gay American's Trip to London for Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral

Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral

Michael Tropp flew to London to be near the Queen after her death and got a front-row seat to witness history.

A self-described American anglophile has been saving up for the eventuality of Queen Elizabeth II's death for years. Finally, this weekend, he had the bitter-sweet experience of a lifetime as he participated in the monarch's final tributes.

Michael Tropp has been to England more than 15 times. While attending the University of Richmond, he spent a semester abroad at Oxford University.

"When Diana died, it was the day that I was moving into Richmond, and like four days later, I woke up at two in the morning and saw it on TV and bawled for six hours," Tropp, 43, tells The Advocate in an interview. "There's just always this connection that I've always had to the country and the people -- the crown."

So when word came of the Queen's passing, Tropp says he was prepared to travel to London.

"I have been thinking about this for ten years," Tropp told The Advocate. "I promised myself that when she died, I would come. So literally five minutes after the actual date of her funeral was announced, I was [online] booking a flight. So I booked a flight Friday night and landed Saturday morning."

The Atlanta-based sales executive says he landed around 9:30 a.m., took the subway to a friend of a friend's apartment, freshened up, and left to join the queue.

Lying in state sign

Above: A sign indicating the location of the Lying-in-State queue for Queen Elizabeth II.

After standing in line for about ninety minutes to get a wristband that allowed access to the queue, Tropp says he made it to the back, which was more than seven miles long. He says one could leave the line to use the restroom and get a snack with the wristband.

Over the next 12 hours, Tropp says he made new friends with the people surrounding him in the four-people-deep line.

Queen funeral line

Above: The queue to see the queen lying in state wound for more than seven miles through London.

"I quickly got behind [a lesbian couple] because I knew we would have something interesting at least to talk about," Tropp, who is gay, says.

The couple was from South Africa but lived in London, he says. Also in line was a Scottish woman, a woman from the midlands of England, and an older man who "we didn't know much about."

Tropp says that man turned out to have been a royal guard at one point.

"So there's this rag-tag group of people who had never met before, literally from all over the globe, standing there, talking, getting along for hours throughout the day," he says fondly.

Tropp says that he finally made it to Westminster Hall, where the late Queen was lying in state, and the majesty of the experience overcame him.

He says that through tears, he took in the moment, nearly blinded by the brilliance of the crown jewels shimmering brilliantly in the light.

"It's just so insanely beautiful," Tropp explained with emotion in his voice. "And she's in there, and you're ten feet away from the most famous person in the world for 70 years, and there will never be anybody like her ever again."

He says that the entire time in the presence of the Queen's coffin was less than 90 seconds but that the experience would last him a lifetime.

After waking up at noon on Sunday, Tropp says he made his way to Buckingham Palace, where he found himself in a restricted area reserved for families camping overnight.

A generous man there with his family explained the access situation to Tropp and says the American was now part of his family. So, the pair exchanged phone numbers, and Tropp had a front row position where he could view the arrival of dignitaries in buses on Sunday, including president Joe Biden who was permitted to arrive in his limousine.

"It's like 100 world leaders are waving at these ten people," Tropp says. "It was insane. Biden drives by, and to see your president there at Buckingham Palace is just crazy."

Michael Tropp

Above: American Michael Tropp had a front-row view of Buckingham Palace during the dignitary arrivals Sunday and the Queen's funeral procession Monday.

For the next twelve hours, Tropp remained at his position, and Monday was able to have a front row seat to the procession of Queen Elizabeth II's coffin, followed by her children, King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and grandsons princes William and Harry.

"Just seeing them all was magic in and of itself and the access I got was insane," he says.

Prince George

Above: Prince George, the second in line to the throne, is accompanied by his sister, Princess Charlotte, and their mother, Princess Catherine.

Aside from the memories of the historic moment, Tropp says he will remember the friendship and "shared misery," which brought people together in a way unlikely to be replicated in the U.S.

"Nothing like that would ever happen in the U.S.," he says. "We could never come together as a country the way that these people have."

Watch The Advocate Channel's Sonia Isabelle's interview with Michael Tropp from London below.

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