The Queen Is Dropping By

In a couple of hours, the Queen of England will drop in down the street to ceremonially re-open St. Pancras Station, which starting next week will serve as the new home terminal for the Eurostar rail line in London. Trains will move from Waterloo Station to St. Pancras overnight next week on the 14th. When the change is complete a trip from London to Paris via Eurostar will take just over two hours, shaving about a half-hour off the current journey. St. Pancras is right down at the end of the street near where I live, Grays Inn Road at Euston Road. I walked by on the way home from class this afternoon and was surprised at the police presence. I counted at least a dozen at various entrances and watching the on-going construction. I thought that the Queen would be at the actual change-over next week, but upon looking up the news when I got home I discovered she will meet three trains tonight as part of the formal ceremony.

St. Pancras Station is going to be quite a spectacle when all the planned refurbishments are complete. In addition to international rail, there are several national rail lines as well as London tube lines that will connect thru it. Also, at the front of the station a luxury hotel and apartments are being fitted into the existing structure. One of the most touted features is a 300-foot “champagne bar,” which I suppose is a bar that serves champagne. Those works are due to be completed in 2009. The story of how St. Pancras was saved from the wrecking ball only a short while ago is interesting. It’s such a beautiful building; it would have been a shame if it had been demolished.

The Queen had a busy day. Today was also the opening of Parliament, where the Queen makes a ceremonial trek from the palace to the House of Lords to deliver a speech about the plans of the government for the current session of Parliament. It’s roughly the equivalent of our State of the Union. When I visited the House of Parliament last month, we followed the path the Queen takes, from the Sovereign’s Gate to the House of Lords and saw the throne from which she will deliver her speech. The speech, which is actually developed by the Prime Minister is a list of policy objectives and bills the government plans to introduce. The ceremony looks like it has as much pomp as you could want. The BBC website has an image gallery you can peruse if you follow the link above.

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