Before dawn, a British pub in Washington honors the queen

·2-min read

The Queen Vic pub in Washington opened its door at 5:30 am, and was soon pouring its first vodka Bloody Marys and Pimm's Cup to a bar full of homesick Brits and American fans of the royal family.

A crowd of about 30 people trickled into the bar in the US capital starting before dawn for a gathering that mixed solemn mourning for the queen with the unusual treat of a pre-work Monday morning drink.

Several women marked the occasion by wearing long dresses and elegant hats, while other customers wore dark shirts and ties, or a more casual look of shorts and soccer jerseys.

"This is a huge deal, the loss of the queen, and we wanted to mark her funeral and show respect," said Julie Muir, 41, a British-American citizen whose family comes from Watford, north of London.

"My family follows the royals religiously. Sometimes it is about the drama and problems between them.

"But today it is all about this wonderful woman, her life, her service and bidding her farewell," she said as the funeral was broadcast on large televisions behind the bar.

- 'The Queen's Tipple' -

The pub was granted a special permit to serve alcohol early, offering a "Queen's Tipple" made of Dubonnet, Beefeater gin and a slice of lemon -- reportedly the late monarchy's favorite drink.

"Many people have been surprised by their own reactions to her death and by their feelings of loss," said pub proprietor Roneeka Gordon, who was born in Liverpool.

"We wanted to create a space for those who are mourning to watch the funeral with like-minded people. We hope traditional British food and beers give our guests an extra feeling of comfort."

Wearing a sharply-pressed US Navy uniform, DeLorean Forbes, 26, a military judge advocate, tucked into a full English breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs, fried toast, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans.

"This was just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wanted to be here with British friends," he said, sticking to coffee before heading to work.

"My mother is a big  fan of monarchy. I really admire the beauty of today's ceremony, and the pomp and circumstance. I value the alliance between our countries and, as a navy man, I am pleased to see the British navy pulling the coffin."

The Queen Vic, named after the British monarch who reigned for 63 years until her death in 1901, opened 12 years ago and serves ales including London Pride and Bombardier, alongside fish and chips, and bangers and mash at a location 10 minutes' drive from the US Capitol.

"It is not often I have a drink at this time," said neighborhood resident and American citizen Jen Barrie, wearing boots decorated with Union Jack flags. "It is just amazing to see and hear the funeral. I told my husband to drop the kids off at school today."

bgs/wd