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SF Brits mourn Queen Elizabeth’s passing the only way they know how—in the pub

Chris Mckenna, bar manager at the Pig and Whistle pub in the Richmond, tunes into an argument between two bar guests about the importance of the queen in San Francisco, Calif. on Sept. 8, 2022. | David Sjostedt/The Standard

San Francisco’s British community gathered in an English pub Thursday to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. 

The royal family had gathered at her bedside earlier in the day at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle as the 96-year-old died. The Queen’s eldest son Charles will now inherit her sovereign title and role as head of the Commonwealth.

As the news broke, Brits headed to the local pub to cushion their royal grief with alcohol. As some admitted to The Standard, the Queen’s passing was just another excuse to drink.

A Manchester United soccer game played in the background at the Richmond District’s Pig and Whistle tavern as Nina Edgell, formerly of Somerset, and ex-West Bromwich resident Darren Davis traded different points of view on the royal family.

“The reason I came here [to the pub] is because I didn't want to sit at home watching the TV and have Americans tell me about the woman I already know,” Richmond resident Edgell said. “People think over here it's just parties and glamor. But it's extremely hard work and dedication.”

Davis wasn’t as willing to paint the Queen’s death as a moral tragedy, questioning whether her job really was the “hard work” Edgell framed it as.

“She gets paid well,” Davis said. “I was born in 1970 and I'm working class. As I've grown into an adult and a human being I've gotten to think about who gets to work in those positions…I mean it's terrible.”

“There's not enough money in the world you could pay me to do that task. She gets two days off a year,” Edgell countered.

“How do you know that?” Davis asked. “I'm trying very hard not to be rude or controversial but I wasn’t a fan yesterday and I'm not going to be a fan tomorrow.”

The conversation droned on as the drinks flowed until the two found something they could agree on: Their distaste of the right wing.

“Oh you mean Boris the Buffoon,” Edgell laughed, referring to the outgoing British Prime Minister. “This is exactly what I needed, to come here and fight somebody English about the country.”

Nina Edgell was born in Sommerset, England but now lives in San Francisco's Richmond district. She nursed a margarita while arguing about the importance of the queen with other guests of the Pig and Whistle pub in the Richmond in San Francisco, Calif. on Sept. 8, 2022. | David Sjostedt/The Standard

Bar manager Chris Mckenna said he's been taking phone calls and fielding general sadness from his regulars.

Mckenna said he wouldn’t call himself a fan of the Queen, but still found himself grieving, to an extent, over her passing.

“I grew up in an Irish Catholic family, I had no love for the royal family. But on the human side of things that was somebody’s mom,” Mckenna said.

‘Ripples across entire cultures’

British food store owner Alex J. Sinclair of Willow on the Green at 9th Street in the Sunset said over a phone call that he believed the Queen's rule helped elevate the status of women across the world. 

Sinclair fondly recalled a time when Queen Elizabeth II personally drove a Saudi prince during a tour of Scotland, marking the first time the prince was driven by a woman.

“She’s full of those stories of just doing the simplest thing at the simplest time to create ripples across entire cultures,” Sinclair said.

He also recalled the impact of seeing the monarch in person during her Ruby Jubilee in 1992.

“Through her eyes was the weight of the nation,” Sinclair said. “What you’re being looked upon is the entirety of our hopes and dreams.”

The longest-reigning British monarch’s death comes over a year after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021. 

One of the Queen’s final public duties was to appoint a new U.K. prime minister, Liz Truss. 

Joe Burn contributed additional reporting for this story.
David Sjostedt can be reached at

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