Queen Elizabeth II was a ‘lovely lady’ who had a ‘great innings,’ said one ex-pat living in Chicago

Brits and others living in Chicago remember the queen and her annual Christmas Day speech — something many families tuned into every year.

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“I wasn’t prepared for this day,” said Sarah Hall, fighting back tears Thursday at the British Consulate on Michigan Avenue. Though she is not British, she had spent time in London in 1989 for school and many days near royal grounds, she said.

“I wasn’t prepared for this day,” said Sarah Hall, fighting back tears Thursday at the British Consulate on Michigan Avenue. Though she is not British, she had spent time in London in 1989 for school and many days near royal grounds, she said.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

As a boy growing up in England, Craig Marney — like a lot of Brits — watched Queen Elizabeth II’s Christmas Day speech on TV every year.

Not because it was particularly enthralling; it was just something everybody did, like finishing off the Christmas feast with a dome-shaped pudding smothered in brandy and then set on fire.

“That was a ritual: If the queen was making a speech, you’re watching it and we’re all going to stop what we’re doing and turn it up and wait until it’s finished before we leave,” said Marney, 43, who lives on the Northwest Side.

Marney, originally from London, left the United Kingdom 10 years ago, but he was still shocked to hear of the queen’s passing.

“Even as someone who is not super into the monarchy, there is still this weird affinity because that person has been a thing that existed your entire life. It’s really weird,” Marney said Thursday as news about the monarch’s death reached Chicago.

Chris Broadbent, 49, is originally from Leicester and has lived in America for 18 years. He heard the news shortly after texting a friend who lives in Windsor, not far from the famous castle. They were debating the merits of different kinds of English teabags.

Broadbent, who also lives on the Northwest Side, said he’s ambivalent about the queen’s death.

“It’s a bit strange really because I’ve never been a massive royal fan. I’m always caught between the benefits of what they brought to the UK in terms of tourism — being the plus side — but also the yin to that yang is the amount of money that they’ve taken off the tax payer to keep them in their royal ways,” Broadbent said.

Broadbent too grew up watching the queen’s speech on Christmas Day.

“It’s sad that she’s gone because she’s a lovely lady,” he said.

But, he said, she also lived a very long life.

“At the end of the day, she’s 96. Her husband died not long ago. She’s had a great innings. 70 years on the throne. Anybody, would say, hang on a minute, you’ve had a good run at life,” Broadbent said.

“I wasn’t prepared for this day,” said Sarah Hall, fighting back tears Thursday at the British Consulate on Michigan Avenue. Though she is not British, she had spent time in London in 1989 for school and many days near royal grounds, she said.

“I was right next to the Swiss embassy, and I would walk over to Buckingham Palace all the time and see her on Sunday afternoons. I was close to Kensington Palace so I would go over and feed Diana’s swans.”

Hall visited the British Consulate downtown hoping they would have a condolences book for her to sign. But at the time, there was nothing there. Still, Hall was emotional over the queen’s passing.

“I love her; may her soul live. She was the greatest servant that the world has ever known,” Hall said.

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