Thousands have lined up for gruelling hours to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II in London, U.K., and one Montrealer is standing out among them.
Michael Henderson, 49, was filmed during a BBC livestream of the service while lining up, wearing a white T-shirt with a red maple leaf on it.
But what caught some people’s attention was the picture he was clutching in his hands.
“I had a small picture of my mom…. This is her graduation picture from Concordia University,” said Henderson, who stood in line for 10.5 hours. “The cameraman on the BBC camera decided to zoom in…. How it got to TikTok after that, by the way, is beyond me.”
Someone appears to have filmed the television screen and posted the video to the app with the caption “carrying a photo with him of the person who should have been there.”
The post has made the rounds and garnered tens of thousands of likes, with people wondering what his story is.
“I wanted to pay my respects for me but also for my broader family and for my mother,” Henderson said. “My mother was British. She always appreciated the queen, the monarchy and as anybody in the U.K. will tell you, she was everyone’s mother and grandmother in some lovely kind of way.”
His mother, Illoma Anne Carr, was born in Leeds and later immigrated to Canada, settling in Westmount, Que., where Henderson grew up.
She died at 65 years old in January of 2009.
“Had she been alive, she would’ve been there with me in that queue or she would’ve wanted me to go,” Henderson said. “I felt like she should be a part of that.”
Henderson, who lives in London, adds that although he had doubts about going, he was happy to honour some of the women he admired in his life.
“I personally thought that the queen was a light of kindness that shone upon not just those in the Commonwealth, but everyone. She rose above all politics, rose above all those things that we dislike about politics. She was a woman who did astounding things in her life and led with dignity and honour and respect and did all of this with humility. I come from a family of very strong, intelligent women in their own rights. Maybe in a way, my mother looked up to her for all the reasons I just mentioned.”
As for his newfound fame on TikTok, Henderson says he only downloaded the app for the first time when a friend flagged the video.
“I guess at this point most of my friends have seen it,” he chuckled.