When Queenie was taken into care at Balmoral Castle, I was sat in the breakroom at work with my colleagues and all the chat was about whether or not we’d get a day off for the funeral (we will). The consensus at the time was that we’d all like one, but our luck would be so bad that the funeral would likely be arranged on a day where we weren’t working anyway. A few hours later I was sat at home, watching a YouTube review of Everything Everywhere All At Once and a Twitter news notification alerted me to the fact she had passed.
I then spent forty minutes watching a live news broadcast that I now wish I hadn’t, because it was going to be mirrored across all news sources for days on end. By that I mean the vulture bird media on every news channel have a rotating crew of commentators who say the following things on repeat: “we all loved her”, “she was dutiful”, “she was only young when she was crowned”, “she was a national icon”, and “we have a King now”. And those five phrases are being reiterated twenty four hours a day for days and days on end. It is now Sunday 10th, just three days after she died, and I am already tired of hearing about it. I am burned out on the news.
I didn’t like hearing the Queen had died. I have expressed before that I think the whole monarchy is a ridiculously outdated idea that really shouldn’t have the power and influence that it does, but that doesn’t mean I wish death upon them. I wasn’t sad, as a lot of older members of my family were, but I was surprised. Surprised in spite of the fact that I said out loud “she’s going to die soon” after seeing a photo of her with the new Prime Minister. I don’t know why. I suppose I thought they had back-up copies of her under Parliament, or that she’d be born again in Buckingham Palace. It’s just that, if one person on Earth had to die, the Queen would be the most expected person to have a reincarnation security measure.
And no, I don’t make light out of Queenie’s death maliciously. Or even call her Queenie maliciously. But her death has become a parody. The CONSTANT media coverage is to blame – It’s the type of media coverage I’d expect in a spoof film. So when I say it starts to become hard to take the whole thing seriously, I don’t say that maliciously either. I don’t smile or take joy in the fact she’s gone, but it feels like the news wants me to be laugh at it.
What does that mean? If you’re watching any news coverage, 90% of the public don’t seem to be mourning. Everyone who isn’t a royal is either holding a camera to the gates of Buckingham Palace like the bottom feeding vultures they are, propelling the march of the spoof media, or cheering with the widest smiles when the very shadow of anyone with a title walks by. Okay, I was being hyperbolic when I say 90% of the public aren’t sad. I don’t know that. I know people who genuinely are. But it does all seem like a bit of a farce when you see the way people behave on TV. The very presence of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan seems to strip the sorrow from their souls.
Speaking of… It is a bit weird having to watch the royal family publicly mourn. Like stand in front of massive rows of flowers, hands on heart, unflinching with blank expressions. I’m not saying they’re not sad. I’m sure they are. I’m sure in their private moments they are very, very sad as one would naturally be. But the fact they have a duty to, on top of genuine mourning, do a performative public mourning while every face in the country stares them down does seem extremely weird. Strangely dystopian.
And for all I’ve seen, the people I feel sorry the most for are Harry and Meghan. They were on TV shaking hands with the public and for half an hour – half a bloody hour – and all the news commentator could say was “I know Harry and Meghan have had problems, but this is truly bigger than that,” followed by, “let’s not discuss Harry and Meghan’s issues because this is so much more important”, followed by, “It’s nice to have Harry and Meghan here after all that’s happened to them,” followed by, “it’s nice to see the royals getting on well with Harry and Meghan”… AND TO TOP IT ALL OFF: “we’re not going to discuss any family drama regarding Harry and Meghan”, after thirty cocking minutes of backhandedly slagging them off as they meet the public outside of a public memorial for their dead granny. It’s such toxic bullshit. I cannot fathom how anyone can take the news coverage of this event seriously. It’s a joke. Hell, it’s funny; that awkward kind of funny derived from how lacking in any tonal and self awareness the commentators are.
It’s all because there’s nothing to talk about anymore, three days on. After they say the same thing twenty times over, something will happen and they’ll cut to it. One time it was the brand new King Charles getting out of a car to go into the park. A camera man, who was VERY far away, spends five seconds zooming in on the car, focusing the lens and then all we see is the King get out and go into the park where there are no more cameras to track him. So we sit watching a wobbly, wobbly picture of an empty car, and the commentators return to their same four or five lines of prescript dialogue about how young the Queen was when she was crowned, or about how old the new King is. Like, at some point, you have to wonder if the news is trying to turn it all into a sketch comedy or some sort of live mockumentary.
I have laughed at the news several times already. Not because of the Queen’s death. Not because I don’t like the royals. Not because of my indifference towards the Monarchy. And certainly not because I don’t in someway respect the Queen. Just because of how unintentionally silly and funny the coverage is.
We have this for ten days. TEN DAYS. Ten days of national mourning where half the people on TV don’t look or sound sad about anything and where, at the end of this very long transitional month, everyone will be paying massive amounts of energy bills due to a crisis that the news refuses to report on now because Queenie snuffed it. This is all incredibly ironic because the Queen has always been praised for her keep calm and carry on mentality, and now the coverage of her death is preventing the news from acknowledging that things apart from the Queen dying are still happening in this country and in the larger world.
What can I talk about other than the news… Ah yes, swearing allegiance! Here in the very modern and not medieval UK, government officials have to swear allegiance to the reigning monarch. So, every member of Parliament had to, one by one, swear allegiance to King Charles III. Now, I don’t want to speak too out of turn but I don’t think Charles’ reign is going to be all that long in the grand scheme of things, and then they’ll all have to do the long process of re-swearing themselves to King William in a few years. So I had this idea to streamline the process. Simply put, all current MP’s swear allegiance either to the crown or to the head of state. That way, you don’t have to keep re-swearing yourself to every individual new monarch. New MP’s do it before being allowed to do politics or whatever. And instead of doing it one by one, they all stand up and say it all at once in a school-choir type of way. So everybody only swears once and it takes 99% less time to get everybody through it.
And given how arbitrary it is to swear loyalty to a medieval institution, I really don’t think it matters if one or two MP’s don’t bother joining in when the whole of Parliament swells with “I SWEAR MY ALLEGIANCE TO THE HEAD OF STATE!” To save even more time, we could simply not swear ourselves to the head of state that derives it’s power from God, in a country that once upon a time tried and executed a monarch and had to argue how their power was in fact not God given.
So yeah, that’s my very longwinded, stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the death of Lizzie. She did some good stuff I’m sure like keeping the country running on her end, and doing so with dignity. But she also did stuff like make sure Andrew doesn’t get charged for fiddling children by paying the world’s biggest bribe. Some say she might not have done it herself, but she sure as shit let it happen if she didn’t. But that’s a whole other tangent.
Maybe the fact I’m quite young means this doesn’t hit me that hard? Maybe it’s my indifference towards the monarchy? Maybe it’s the hilarious way it’s been recorded and reported by the media, which absolutely undermines itself with every extra second it covers her passing? Maybe it’s all three.
Who knows? Long live the King, I guess, for as long as he’s got left.