I do not know about you, but I have seen quite a lot about the Royal Family in the media in the past few days. Parts of it were over the top and more sycophantic than I would have expected. However, it appears to me that when someone dies, we always remember their best attributes.
How often do people say, “he was a funny one,” or “we didn’t really like him, but we have Mum’s second cousin!” Instead, everyone who dies is at the heart of their family universally loved and the life and soul of people’s lives.”
What struck me was that some of the coverage I saw was joust pointless and gratuitous tittle-tattle either because the media person did not have anything else to talk about or because they just have a nasty mind.
What they seem to have forgotten was, as the name suggests this was a family. Families do funny things at a time like a death of someone who is much loved. To these people, Royal though they may be, this was a Mum, a grandma, a great-grandma, or close friend over many years. That makes it a very emotional time and a time when we do not always behave rationally but let our emotions take the upper hand.
I look back 11 years now to when my Mum dies and more than 35 years since my dad died, and I remember how sad I was. They were always there for me and suddenly were not. I ‘clung’ to my family more than ever at that time because I realised just how important they are to me. I sought solace in their company and hugged and cuddled more than at any other time.
I did most of this in private or in the company of my family and friends who came together to share our grief and our fond reflections of a life well lived. This is a common reaction and is major part of faiths like the Jewish and Moslem faiths where there are ritual observances after the passing of a family member.
This was not true of the Royal Family. Within minutes of his mother’s death Prince Charles became King Charles III. Within hours of his mum’s death, he started his new Royal duties meeting people from all over the Country and World. In the space of ten hectic days, he did the family stuff that you and I would have done but he also attended 4 Parliaments, met senior politicians from the 4 UK based national legislatures and met senior political leaders from all over the World.
Even his grieving had to be done in public as he and his siblings held vigils for their mother and walked behand her coffin on a number of occasions.
Then we got treated to a whole load of trivia. King Charles complained because his ‘stinking pen’ would not work properly. A prince held hands with his wife (what a shocker that its!) Another Prince was seen to cry, (where has the stiff upper lip gone!)
We do have a peculiar approach to our Royal Family. Half of the UK lap [s up all this gossip and tittle-tattle and the other resents paying for it! Though it is actually not 50:50. Whilst many people think that things might have been slightly over the top the vast majority of people of the UK seem to regret the passing of the Queen and to be in praise of her service to the Country when she kept the promise she made as a 21 years old that her life would eb one of service.
This emotion was felt all over the World. No-one else in history has had more than one hundred heads of state present at their funeral. When the Presidents of the USA and France joined the Heads of State of Commonwealth Countries from Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean and pacific areas as equals you can see what an impact the Queen has had.
For 10 days the UK has been the most important news story in the World and for the right reasons. As someone wisely remarked we can do a good funeral! We showed our history, our present and our basic behaviours so well to the outside world.
My hopes, following the key events are two-fold:
Firstly, we should let the King and his relatives carry out the quiet and reflective mourning period that we all expect in our hours of darkness. Let him work out how the family business can be updated in these modern times so that some of obsequiousness and spending is reduced that of a ‘normal’ head of state (they all cost money).
Secondly, we build up on the excellent publicity that we have had over recent days to build on those clear relationships that the UK has with other Countries partly built on the presence and acts of the Queen. Let us forge links with all our friends globally and recover some of the natural relationships that have linked us for years but of which many have been fractured over the past six years.
As I have been to services in the last week in a Hindu Temple and a Jewish synagogue and all sorts of local and city-wide Christian events. I believe that this is what the people of Liverpool and further afield want as well.
Let us build on the memory of our late Queen and the unity which her death inspired to build a newer, gentler, more civilised Country and furthermore a Country which seeks partners, alliances, and friendships with the rest of the world which will create a gentler, kinder, and more civilised world.