Queen Elizabeth II passes at 96, SJS collector of royal family memorabilia reacts


Courtesy of Jennifer Bowen

In her house, Jennifer Bowen, SJS Admission Administrative Assistant, keeps a large collection of British royal family memorabilia. The left side shows coronation cups and plates from King Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936.

When Jennifer Bowen was five years old, she watched Queen Elizabeth II walk into her apartment lobby. Bowen lived in London as a young girl and eventually became fascinated by the Queen and the royal family.

“I really fell in love with it,” said Bowen, St. John’s Admission Administrative Assistant. “My father would take me to the changing of the guards every Saturday.”

On Sept. 8, the royal family officially announced the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty died at the age of 96 after ruling for over 70 years.

News outlets around the world picked up the story quickly, the government mandated a period of mourning and the United Kingdom’s flags lowered to half-mast. British social media accounts changed their profiles to a black background, reporters swapped their usual attire for black suits and dresses, and businesses and schools closed. 

In 1964, Bowen and her mother visited Cotswolds, England, a place with many antique shops. (Courtesy of Jennifer Bowen)

Like many people, Bowen was at the School when the news of the Queen’s death broke. She was shocked by the announcement and surprised by how quickly everything unfolded afterward.

“After 70 years of reign, it was a definite surprise.”

Bowen has long collected items and memorabilia of the royal family, a hobby that stemmed from her love of visiting Buckingham palace with her father.

She began collecting also because she admired the Queen’s dignity and determination as well as the way the Queen would prioritize the country over family.

“I think constant is the best word,” Bowen said. “Even in her clothing, she was always constant in fulfilling her duties.”

Bowen’s collection boasts an assortment of items spanning the entirety of the Queen’s reign. All of the memorabilia that Bowen has in her home includes collectible plates with the crest of the English monarchy, photos from when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip were younger and tea cups depicting the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

In 2012, Bowen hosted and planned a royalty-themed antique show in Houston as part of the Houston Thetas organization. The show, which she named the “Royal-Tea,” hosted dealers from across the world in order to raise money for local charities.

Bowen wears a hat that the Queen once wore and holds a tea set that honors the royal family. Her favorite tea cup has “God Save the Queen” inscribed on it. (Isabella Diaz-Mira)

Bowen meticulously planned the show for over a year and even contacted the Houston Museum of Fine Arts to display the replica crown jewels at the event. She set up the jewels as if they were the real ones and brought an actual royal mail coach to the event. 

The show marked the 60th anniversary of the Theta charity group and coincided with the Queen’s diamond jubilee. In total, the antique show raised over half a million dollars.

Ultimately, Bowen believes that the Queen’s passing marks the end of an era characterized by the modernization of the UK and the downsizing of the monarchy. In Bowen’s mind, the Queen has undoubtedly left a lasting legacy in the UK and in the rest of the world. 

“I don’t think we’ll ever see anybody like her in our lifetime.”