It is a couple of weeks since the death of Margaret Thatcher and her ‘Ceremonial Funeral’ amongst the mourners was the Queen, a few months her junior. Apart from a ‘bout of the trots’ a few weeks previous the Queen seems in rude health, the punishing schedule of being Monarch keeping the Queen fit, but I would be surprised if the thought that ‘one day that will be me’ did not cross her mind. I hope to God that she remains Queen for another 60 years, but that is highly unlikely.
One day the coffin will be placed underneath the dome, and it will be King Charles, or whatever he styles himself as, leading the mourners. It will be a sad day. I am fifty and the Queen had been on the throne 10 years at my birth, it will be the end of chapter in British life.
Whilst I am socialist I am also a monarchist, because I believe the monarchy has been good for socialism. Over the first 50 years of her reign we have had unprecedented social change, with the introduction of the Welfare State (slightly before her reign to be honest) to the decimation of the manufacturing base to rise of a dominant financial sector. We have seen the United Kingdom move from being a superpower to a ‘medium sized’ European power.
We moved from being an Empire (at her Coronation it consciously decided not to include the title ‘Empress’ in Queen Elizabeth’s titles), to a ‘Commonwealth’ of sovereign nations, with a few keep the Queen as ‘Head of State’.
Whatever the changes we have an unchanging ‘Head of State’ – we have this woman who has charted the rapids of British post-war history with a aplomb and gaining experience. Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving British Prime Minister, had on a fraction of the Queen’s experience, she had seen half a dozen Prime Ministers ‘come and go’ and buried perhaps the greatest wartime leader this country had knowm.
This woman has beguiled the country into a sense of continuity, the unchanging nature of the British psyche and purpose in the world. Growing up in the 60’and 70’s I believed we were the greatest country on the face of the planet, and this was confirmed because we had the same Queen who had reviewed over 300 Warships at the Spithead Review in 1953. She was the Bodicea of the modern age. Even when we were humiliated in the Icelandic Cod War in 1973 I still believed in our superiority. As I watched Governments come, and watch them go, it was always the Queen who was that – outliving the politicians that ‘advised her’.
When she finally takes that last procession to Westminster Abbey we will begin to realise the bewitchment we have been under, the spell that she cast over her people, the respect that a nation has, perhaps the last vestiges of respect I will have for this country, being interred.
They buried Thatcher to much pomp and controversy, but her passing has made no difference to me. Her funeral was just another funeral, but the death of the Queen will be time of uncertainty and change, the realisation we now in live in the new order.
Until that time, which I hope will be a long time, I will toast the proclamation on her coronation day.
Vivat Regina, Vivat Regina Elizabetha
Long live the Queen, Long Live Queen Elizabeth