Mourning through boredom
We are being “invited” (by whom?) to observe a minute’s silence at 8pm this evening to honour the queen, who died over a week ago at the (too young, it seems) age of 96.
Is it possible to grieve for someone you don’t know? I was sad when Mark died, but then The Fall had a profound effect on my life: I’ve listened to their music every couple of days for 30-odd years, and Mark – who was just 60 when he died (due to ingesting mountains of speed and lakes of strong lager for decades, it should be noted) – affected how I see the world, what music I listen to and what I read.
All mass, public mourning is mendacious. How can the death of anyone we didn’t know, at the age of 96 – least of all a functionary – be a cause of genuine sadness? Most of all, it’s profoundly boring – but perhaps it’s only through all the standing around, being serious, queing, bowing our heads, missing football matches and not going to the gym (and getting a day off work, to be fair) that it can be seen as truly important.
But it shouldn’t obscure the fact that the monarchy – even the strange, bland, “modern” version EII represented – is an offensive concept. And the day after the funeral we’ll still be living in a country where lots of us cannot afford to feed or heat ourselves, but prince Charles will have inherited a £16 billion estate.
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I never checked the figures myself but I had read that the royal family generates a lot revenue through tourism and I figured that it must be paying for itself. Dissolving the royal family and redistributing the wealth doesn’t seem like it would do much to address poverty.
Nevertheless, people making a big stink about celebrity deaths always rubbed me the wrong way. There are plenty of great men and women dying every day—people who did a tremendous amount for their local communities and no doubt improved a lot of lives—so I agree that it’s hard to really care about someone whom you never knew. In this case however, I think that people are lamenting the end of an era and the connection to the past that she represented. She served in WWII and the number of people who can make that claim these days are few and far between. Her death probably just represents a sobering reminder for a lot of people that time marches on and that large paradigm shifts are underway with new people at the helm.
Thanks for the comment, as ever. I doubt the royal family in any sense pays for itself, and it’d be easy to envisage a European style, lightweight monarchy that still brought the dollars and yen into Buckingham palace. Or even no monarchy at all: Versailles pulls in the punters.
That doesn’t really bother me, though. It’s more we have to perform these mendacious, deferential rituals to prop up an aristocracy that is very modern in its moneymaking, at a time when the UK just doesn’t work any more. This should be a time of radicalism, not conservatism.
Still, yes, I hadn’t considered that ER’s death simply represented change and the passing of time. We never thought Mark would die either :-)
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@leonp Yes, I totally agree with you! The amount of media coverage even here has been so overwhelming and utterly formulaic and I have to wonder whether the journalists aren't just burying their sense that this is ridiculous like the rest of us. At least yesterday there were a couple of "actually, colonialism is bad" articles at long last. In the UK, with such an urgent cost of living crisis, it seems even more obscene that the processions are taking up so much news time.
@jayeless I think it’s partly the country having no idea of how to deal with these big state events in an age of social media, so it’s just turned the dial up to 11 so as not to offend any sense of what’s right.
It’s the funeral today and all the UK’s problem will still be around tomorrow – Charles isn’t going to fix them.