More Precious than Crown Jewels


"People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world." — Queen Elizabeth II

The first time I visited the Tower of London in 1995, some of the Crown Jewels were gone. In their place were tiny placards that simply read, "In Use." But I knew where they were. I'd just watched them ride past me in grand, horse drawn carriages down the streets of London. It was my first time living in London, and my flatmates and I had just bought little British flags for a pound each and joined the crowds along the guard-lined route waiting for our chance to glimpse royalty. Queen Elizabeth II was going to pass by on her way to the Palace of Westminster for the highly ceremonial, annual opening of Parliament. After much anticipation, the moment came! First, her long, ornate, gleaming gold scepters and orb (atop its own special pillow) were visible, displayed through open windows of their own elaborate carriages. And then she appeared - the Queen, waving past us in her State coach, escorted by the Household Cavalry, and wearing the missing Imperial State Crown from the Tower.

It was a coincidence I went to the Tower of London afterwards, just visiting another landmark on my list of must-sees while in London. I didn't know it would be such a heady sensation - realizing, amidst all the precious Crown Jewels on display, these glittering symbols are still "in use." Then I felt really fortunate to be there the same day I saw the Queen, connecting modern day royal life and duty to the historic collection of opulent crowns around me.

London shaped my life in profound ways. I lived and studied there during undergraduate and graduate years and even completed a summer acting program at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. The U.K. was the backdrop to some of my life's most important moments. Throughout it all, Queen Elizabeth II was there, a steady presence so lacking in controversy that we all rather took her reign for granted. Her passing is also deeply felt because it has us marking where we are in our own lives too, doesn't it? Add in 9/11 this weekend, and we all had a lot to take in.

On a happier note, my wedding anniversary travelers just had a phenomenal stay at Castle Hot Springs, where they took a few days to relax without the kids and to honor their milestone, together. They loved it there, of course. It's a pretty magical place.... "Everything is absolutely perfect. I literally shed tears of joy during last night’s delicious dinner. Our arrival was flawless, and we had a lovely after dinner dip in the mineral waters. We are getting ready for our morning hike now. Thank you so much!"

Are you prioritizing travel with your loved ones? I'm here to help you make it happen - because creating lasting memories together is more precious than all the Crown Jewels in the world.

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Danielle Dybiec

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