Queen Elizabeth II made an unprecedented move in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
Two days after Americans were left stunned by the deadliest terror attacks in the country’s history on September 11, 2001, the British monarch, who died on Thursday at the age of 96, broke tradition to show solidarity with the shaken nation.
The monarch directed the band of the Coldstream Guards to play the “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in order to pay tribute to the lives that were lost on that tragic day.
The band usually performs “a selection of music ranging from traditional marches to songs from musicals and familiar pop songs” at the iconic daily ceremony held in front of Buckingham Palace, per the official royal website.
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A tradition dating back to 1660, the Changing of the Guard is a major draw for tourists visiting London.
According to a report from The Guardian in September 2001, 3,000 people gathered to hear the “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed, including hundreds of Americans.
“As the band of the Coldstream Guards began the US national anthem hundreds in the crowd sang along while others wept, before observing a two-minute silence,” the outlet reported.
“I want to be closer to home right now and this is the closest we can get,” American citizen Laura Esposito told the Guardian at the time.
Prince Andrew represented his mother at the ceremony. He was joined by then U.S. Ambassador to Britain William Farish as they honored the victims of the attacks.
The following day, the monarch broke royal protocols again in order to show her support for the U.S.
Along with her husband Prince Philip and her son Prince Charles, she attended a service of remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral. She ordered that the “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played and was pictured wiping away a tear as the thousands of church-goers who attended the service sang along.
In 2010, the monarch traveled to New York City for the first time since 1957 and visited Ground Zero, the site where the Twin Towers fell.
On the 20th anniversary of September 11th in 2021, Queen Elizabeth once again asked that the American nation anthem be played during the Changing of the Guard.
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“As we mark the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks on 11th September 2001, my thoughts and prayers – and those of my family and the entire nation – remain with the victims, survivors, and families affected, as well as the first responders and rescue workers called to duty,” she said in a statement to President Biden.
“My visit to the site of the World Trade Center in 2010 is held fast in my memory. It reminds me that as we honor those from many nations, faiths, and backgrounds who lost their lives, we also pay tribute to the resilience and determination of the communities who joined together to rebuild.”