UNTIL the very end, Her Maj fulfilled her public duties. Throughout her reign, indeed, one of the essential ingredients was ‘business as usual’.
Yet in the face of all the cancellations and closures which have been announced it is a characteristic that many seem to value little.
My grandmother died a couple of weeks ago. Upon trying to arrange a funeral (undertakers are, peculiarly, extremely busy after the supposedly worst pandemic in living memory and had a backlog), no bookings were being accepted for the entire week commencing 19 September. This was ‘out of respect’, of course.
On the day of the Queen’s funeral I could perhaps understand. But the entire week? It seems a bit much to me. Perhaps it is part of the loss of stiff upper lip and the general rise in flamboyant emoting which now defines public life.
Perhaps it is my cynical side, but I worry that the response to the Queen’s death has become another opportunity for virtue-signalling.
I, like anyone who isn’t a scoundrelly republican, felt saddened by Elizabeth II’s death. That seemingly permanent anchor to the past was torn away, leaving us ever more adrift in a stew of postmodern imbecility.
But as the cancellations came rolling in, I started to wonder what, precisely was being lamented. The Last Night of the Proms – an opportunity for flag waving, patriotism and of a stirring rendition of the national anthem – cancelled. Absurdly, Center Parcs – the overpriced favourite of many a middle-class parent – initially decided to turf everyone out of its accommodation on the day of the Queen’s funeral as a ‘mark of respect’. Perhaps I have forgotten the definition of the word, but ‘hollow gesture’ seems closer to the mark. Nevertheless, realising it was a PR catastrophe, they soon reversed course.
GPs, who, it seems, are forever looking for ways not to be doctors, are cancelling appointments on the day itself. As TCW reported yesterday, hospital appointments are also being postponed – some for more than a year. Flights in and out of the Heathrow will be re-arranged or cancelled to ensure silence in London during the Queen’s funeral on Monday.
I instinctively dislike public displays of excessive emotion. Each saucepan banged for the NHS during lockdown made me wince. The desire to show that one’s grief is more genuine than the next person’s brings to my mind the funeral of Kim Jong-il, with each North Korean wailing fit to bust lest a commissar spot any signs of indifference.
I am a monarchist, but it is in the institution of the monarchy within our constitutional settlement that I place my faith, not in the person of the monarch. The problem with doing otherwise is that once a crap king turns up (hypothetically – let’s give Charles III a chance), the temptation to do away with him is too great. It turns the monarchy into a tawdry popularity contest, with future claimants perhaps one day decided by an X-Factor-type competition. For this reason, the immediate transition between monarchs is so crucial: The Queen is dead. Long live the King!
Let us all mourn it in our own individual way the passing of a remarkable woman and the figurehead of our nation. But, for God’s sake, let’s try and maintain some emotional continence as we do so, rather than keeping one eye on our neighbours as we weep in case their outpourings are more ostentatious.
This appeared on Frederick’s Newsletter on September 15, 2022, and is republished by kind permission.