I had an idea a couple of weeks ago, to write a letter, or journal recounting the evets of our time, a bit like Samuel Pepys, though I get my information from the news I see and read on social media. Twitter, for keeping up to date and Youtube for the same reason, but also for all the wonderful documentaries and charismatic vloggers and all their interesting niche subjects. 2022 is indeed the age of information, especially for my generation who's idea of a mobile phone was two rusty cans and a piece of string. Our first home phone was a party line shared with neighbours we were at war with, not helped by the fact that I was a young teenager who needed to spend at least 8 hours a day chatting to my mates.
I abandoned my first letter to the future a couple of weeks ago. It was full of doom and gloom as the soothsayer in me predicted all sorts of Walking Dead situations in the weeks and months to come. We have already lived through one plague and I suspect more are on their way. But to be fair I was morose at the time and I had recently watched Prince of Egypt. Ok, maybe not a WD situation, but certainly we are experiencing the rumblings of a revolution. Without going all preachy again, the greed of the billionaires will force millions in the UK into food and energy poverty. Something that should be unheard of this 21st century. As in the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, something's got to give.
But I will stop from that political vein before I start throwing rotten tomatoes at myself. This week has been ultra dramatic. The old Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne for 70 years has passed away! It's the biggest news since Princess Diana. QE11's son has instantly become King Charles III, lots of people are remembering their history lessons and saying The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King, in the same breath I believe. A precaution previous monarchs had to take in case some upstart from another branch of the family decided to ride in with an army and steal the throne. The Normandy branch were known for it.
Suffice to say the throne of Great Britain is pretty secure. Heirs and spares all over the place. Princess Diana secured the throne and kept her head, by giving Prince Charles two sons, and his sons have sons. Now I am not particularly a monarchist, though maybe I am because I have always had an intense interest in the Royal family. I think it started with Diana because I loved the clothes she wore and tutting at the mistakes she made. Ditto Fergie, the Duchess of York, not because she couldn't wear haute couture but because she reminded me of my schooldays and those bossy, lumbering jolly hockeysticks types who did not share my love of a ciggy behind the bike sheds and talking about boys. Oddly enough, in later life, those 'types' became great pals of mine, always good for a craic.
When I heard the news, well actually I was watching it all day, I had feelings of shock, and indeed sorrow, that I never expected to feel. I have joked about this moment for years, well complained that she would probably outlive me, never thinking it would come. I kind of felt sorry for Prince Charles, because he has spent a life in waiting and that is probably how history will remember him. To his credit, in these days of mourning he has done a whistlestop tour of the United Kingdom and attended non stop church and cathedral services. Actually the whole of the Royal Family have been very much on show, including Prince Harry and Meghan (more on which later). The age old pomp, ceremony and pageantry are very much to the forefront at this time, reminding us of the long lineage of our rulers. I am actually quite proud of it all, the UK is putting on an amazing spectacle for the world, a reminder of not only our past, but theirs too.
But I wanted to tell you what it feels like at this time. It compares I think to the madness that took over the UK in September 1997 when Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. The country was in shock, probably more so than now because Diana was only 36. The feeling now is more that it is the end of an era, a very long era. Most of us have not known any other monarch, Queen Elizabeth had been on the throne our entire lives. No matter what our feelings towards the Monarchy and all the sycophancy that surrounds it, it is impossible to be untouched at this time. We are caught in a moment of history. We have lived through and are at the end of the second Elizabethan age. Historians of the future will look back at the week of September 2022, and they will mark 1952-2022, the rule of Queen Elizabeth as a time of what? Great change, democracy, fairness and equality? Debateable. We still have a huge divide between rich and poor, bigger I would say than during the Victorian Age. Some would argue that the monarch has no say in the way in which the country is run. But I disagree. The Queen is often recited as being wise, informed and diplomatic, her experience is legendary, meeting 15 Prime Ministers and virtually every world leader. She could, for example, have told Liz Truss (new PM) not to allow her people to freeze and/or starve to death this coming winter.
But tut tut to myself here, I did not mean to criticise at this time. I've actually grown quite fond of the Royal Family in recent years, I especially love the birthday pictures of the little ones taken by their mum Princess Catherine. My whole perspective changed when I saw the then very elderly Queen visit a hospital in Manchester caring for the young victims of a devastating bomb at a Ariana Grande pop concert. The effect this sweet old lady had on the patients and nurses was miraculous. It was at that moment 'I got it'.
Whilst I hate to end this missive on a sour note, the well oiled Royal PR machine failed to take into account the human factor, that is a very pampered, grumpy, 73 year old man surrounded by servants and sycophants who do literally everything for him! From putting toothpaste on his toothbrush to ironing his shoelaces. I also hear his staff have to cook six boiled eggs for his breakfast to ensure he gets the correct consistency. I can't help thinking that in order to live that kind of life, one, hmm, would have to enjoy demeaning others because that's how the whole Master/Servant thing works.
OK, so he's a dinosaur, a relic from a bygone age, but the whole bottom teeth baring at lackies and temper tantrums, yes plural, was shocking. I am referring to King Charles III's inability to operate a fountain pen or move an inkwell on his own. In the words of Mya Angelou, 'when someone shows you who they are, believe them', I now suspect the purveyor of the dodgy fountain pens has now been dragged off to the Tower!
I should before I go, mention the dissent among the masses. And there is some. A bit of booing here and there, and few signs demanding the abolition of the Monarchy and 'Not my King'. It is stamped out immediately with offenders being marched off in handcuffs. There is a real clampdown on any signs of dissent, it's almost as if the entire establishment are insisting we all mourn and we all cheer the new King.
I suppose those looking back at these times will consider just how stable the monarchy is at the end of a long reign. While republicans might have put up with the Queen due to her longevity and distance from our lives, a new King might upset the status quo. Maybe that is why all the Windsors are out and about meeting the ordinary people. King Charles needs to capture that goodwill the Queen had enjoyed, he and his heirs need it if the Monarchy is to survive.
Now I really will say ttfn (ta ta for now). There is a big week ahead with lots more ceremony and pageant to come. It will be the biggest gathering of world leaders, well, ever. Which begs the question, how does an Emperor greet a King? Who bows first? I mention this because the Emperor of Japan, Emperor Naruhito is among the world leaders attending and of course the President of the USA, Joe Biden. I'll give a full list of attendees in my next instalment. For now, just those two names send a shiver down my spine and I feel quite chuffed on behalf of the Queen and her family that the world treated her with such respect. My kindest wishes to any reader who has got this far - take care.