The death of Queen Elizabeth II made headlines worldwide Thursday morning, and the news drew reactions and recollections even from the Santa Clarita Valley, where residents with roots in the United Kingdom reflected on the life of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
“Well, obviously today was a big shock,” said Greg Sutton of the Rose and Crown British Restaurant on Lyons Avenue in Newhall. “I mean, it’s the end of the legacy here. All day long, I’ve been getting texts and phone calls from customers from all over — even out of state who have moved away — to see how everyone feels.”
While Sutton and his sisters were born in the SCV, their parents, Peter and Beverley Sutton, came from Liverpool, England. They followed family, Sutton said. The restaurant, which will be 19 years old on Sunday, was kind of a slice of home for them.
As for any plans Thursday to memorialize the queen, Sutton said he came into the restaurant first thing and hung some flags.
“And then,” he told The Signal as they’d opened their doors for business at 4 p.m., “I think, tonight, we’re just going to do a champagne toast.”
The queen was 96 years old. According to a tweet from the royal family, she died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, which is the royal residence. At age 25, Elizabeth II acceded to the throne on June 2, 1953, following the death of her father, George VI.
Marianne Long of Santa Clarita, who comes from a tiny village called Poynings just outside of Brighton, England, said she remembers the queen’s coronation as a child.
“All the children at school had the day off,” she recalled. “And I can remember sitting on the floor with black and white television, watching all day, for the whole thing. And everybody at school was given a coronation mug with a coat of arms on it. I still have mine.”
Long came to America in 1965 when she was 21 years old. She said she had a dream to see the palm trees. She saw plenty of them, as she worked in the film industry at Universal Studios for 42 years. When her husband died about 20 years ago, she relocated from the San Fernando Valley to Santa Clarita because she’d had friends in the area. She said she’s very involved with her community and loves it here.
Long added that Thursday’s news of the queen’s death was tough to take.
“But we knew this was coming,” she said. “We’ll see how things go moving forward.”
Steven Beeby, who owns Boho Vinyl Records and Rags in Newhall with his brother Anthony, hails from Northhamptonshire, England, and he told The Signal that he actually had an in-person encounter with the queen when he was just a kid.
“I remember seeing the queen in real life,” he said. “I was probably 5 or 6 years old. She was coming to our hometown and we had to learn the national anthem. We were there in the market square area to welcome her, and as soon as she stepped out of the car, we started singing ‘God save the queen.’”
Beeby, who moved to America with his family in 1979, said the queen’s death to him and his family is very sad.
Paul Butler, a business columnist for The Signal and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development in Valencia, comes from Lichfield in Staffordshire, and he thought the queen was a great leader, a great mother and a great grandmother.
“I really deeply did admire the queen,” he said. “She’s obviously been the monarch in all of my life. My personal view is that she was a person of incredibly high character and obviously great loyalty.”
Butler came to America about 20 years ago on a two-year work assignment in Beverly Hills for the Hilton Hotels Corp. When he returned to England, he and his wife made a binder. On the cover of that binder he wrote, “Get Back to Santa Clarita Plan,” and inside the binder was the so-called “blueprint” to get back. They eventually put down new roots in Santa Clarita. They’ve been here for the past 16 years.
The news of the queen’s passing certainly made Butler think about his home, though.
“My parents and grandparents massively admired her,” he said. “I just personally have a lot of concerns about where that institution’s going to go moving forward, because I don’t have the same admiration for what’s going to follow with Prince Charles and all the nonsense there.”
Shortly after news of the queen’s death broke, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement.
“California joins the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and people around the world in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” the statement read. “The longest-ruling monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II has had an extraordinary impact throughout her momentous life and work. Never having expected to become queen, she nevertheless embraced her duty to serve, joining the armed services during World War II and pledging on her 21st birthday to devote her life to the nation and the Commonwealth.
“Throughout her unprecedented seven decades on the throne,” the statement continued, “Queen Elizabeth remained true to that promise, providing an unwavering source of leadership, inspiration and stability through times of great social change and uncertainty while serving as matriarch to her own family. As we reflect on her incomparable life and legacy, our hearts are with the king and the queen consort and the entire royal family during this time of great loss.”