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The last queen?

September 19, 2022

When I woke up to the news ten days ago that the Queen was no longer with us, my first thought (and what I wrote about) was: Uh, oh, King Charles? How was that going to pan out? 

As for the Queen’s death, well, as John Oliver put it, “Ninety-six-year-old woman dies of natural causes!” She’d had, as they say, a good innings. I felt sorry for her for the fact that her last two official duties were back to back meetings with Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, but beyond that it didn’t really affect me.

Then a friend posted this on Facebook.

Much to my surprise, it did bring a tear to my eye.

And then, again much to my surprise, it was the sight of a Paddington Bear left outside one of the palaces that had me welling up. (Give the woman her due, between 007 and Paddington Bear it’s clear she had a great sense of humour and fun.)

Of course it’s been wall to wall coverage on both the BBC and the CBC, which is almost as slavish in its devotion to the House of Windsor. The only place to get any actual news on the telly has been Al Jazeera. (Someone obviously forgot to send them the memo. The keep referring to King Charles and Queen Camilla, when of course she should be referred to as the Queen Consort in recognition of all the years she spent consorting with Charles during his first marriage.)

An interview with one woman, one of the hundreds of thousands who’ve turned up at royal palaces to leave flowers (and bears), also gave me pause for thought. She was there with her daughter, who was about ten. The mother commented that her daughter and probably her daughter’s daughters would never again see a woman sitting on the throne. True dat. The succession now spreads out to young George, who may or may not have a male firstborn. (That is one of the things Elizabeth sorted out during her time on earth: firstborns inherit the crown whether they’re female or male.) And I suppose that is something. If the monarchy actually survives to have another queen, it won’t be in this century.

There was something quite touching about watching William and Harry once again walking behind a coffin, almost exactly 25 years after they’d been compelled to do the same for their mother. (Ah, yes, the death of Diana. The one time protocol trumped common sense and Elizabeth spectacularly failed to read the room.)

If I was still living in London I can guarantee that I would not be one of the many thousands of people spending several hours in a queue to spend a few seconds in Westminster Hall staring at a flag draped coffin. I honestly cannot fathom the compulsion to do so.  I suppose there was some bonus points if you happened to get inside the hall when the children or grandchildren were standing vigil, but it still doesn’t seem worth it to me.

Surprisingly, it did seem worth it to none other than David Beckham, who apparently turned up – bearing donuts – to join the queue on Sautruday. Early sightings were treated as rumours, but were soon confirmed.  

Well, respect to the man. (And the other famous faces who queued with everyone else.)  No surprise that Posh wasn’t with him. Can’t imagine her queueing in her designer stilettos for anything.

And all this is in aid of what, exactly? I don’t know. Just to say I’ve been more moved than I expected to be.

RIP HRM.

From → Blog

One Comment
  1. Susan Yates permalink

    I miss her because she was ‘my’ Queen and the only one I’ve ever known. I walked behind her when I was 6 years old in a May Day parade in New Westminster, and I remember how her smile captivated me. I’m neither a royalist nor a monarchist, but I still look at my Queen E. doll every few years, and admire the beautiful clothes my mother made to replicate the young Queen’s coronation wardrobe for that doll. Perhaps I’m really longing for the naivety of my childhood, when such elegance did not speak of disparities.

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