I can’t write that I’m particularly upset by the death of the Queen, but the death of Elizabeth Windsor is another matter. I feel for her children and her grandchildren who have suffered the loss in much the same way as I’d feel for any other family that has undergone a similar experience. That is, with a sense of curious detachment tinged with fascinated puzzlement which stems from the fact that no-one I’ve ever loved has died and therefore the feelings associated with grief are unknown to me. I can’t pretend otherwise. So yes, the death of Elizabeth Windsor is sad for her family and others who knew her, but how is it any sadder than any other 96 year old woman who has ever died?
When her uncles abdication made her father King, she was instantly transformed from a minor royal into a future Queen. The death of her father created Queen Elizabeth II. Elizabeth Windsor was gone, replaced instead by a kind of vessel through which assorted and often contradictory hopes and expectations, qualities and virtues, beliefs and motives could be interpreted. And because the royal family famously never responded to criticism – that is until Prince Harried decided to sue newspapers – the media were allowed to interpret her behaviour in any way they saw fit. Remember how the press were enthralled by her calm detachment, only for them to turn on her for the same in the week following the death of Di? Possibly then Emmanuel Macron might have had his tongue very firmly in his cheek when in a tweet expressing his sadness about the death of the Queen, he referred to her as ‘the Queen of Hearts’, something which Diana wanted to be, and a phrase the Queen reportedly derided.
But thankfully, given as how I’ve no emotional reference point upon which to focus, no idea of what the correct emotional responses should be, guidance was at hand in the form of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. In a near conformity of opinion that would make Kim Jong-un envious, she was afforded the sort of hagiography that was as bereft of much evidence to support it as it was ceaseless. Indeed, at the time of writing this ( 3pm on Saturday 10th September and two days after her death) the BBC is still at it. And if I hear one more oxygen thief witter about her tireless service, hard work or sense of duty, I might hit someone. Did she ever put in night shifts as a hospital porter, deliver meals-on-wheels or volunteer as a teaching assistant in an inner city school?
There are no dissenting voices, no room for anything other than fawning obsequiousness and anything that isn’t becomes a condemnatory news story. When I saw this tweet from Joe Politics I howled with laughter but The Daily Mail went full rabid. And the media insists on perpetuating the fiction that everyone is affected by her death, that people in England are as united in grief as those in Wales and Scotland. The thing that will be more unifying will be the Bank Holiday of the Coronation. That Commonwealth countries, far from mourning her passing will instead be working out to leave it. The only people affected by her death are, as I wrote earlier, are her family and those closest to her. Everyone else has their own reasons, as questionable as they are self-serving.