On Friday September 9, 2022, I set foot for the primary time in my life in the UK, by no means having imagined till then that it might be dominated by a king when it occurred. The queen had not been useless for twenty-four hours and I used to be leaving for franceinfo to cowl the occasion, which inevitably had a significant affect: the nation had simply misplaced the one who had dominated it for 70 years, a report for longevity. When Elizabeth II started to reign, my grandmother was 8 years outdated.
From Balmoral to Edinburgh, from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, in every single place the identical scenes. The crowds rushed in, flowers in hand, typically a flag on their backs, to catch a glimpse of the procession for a couple of seconds, the coffin lined with the royal normal and surmounted by the imperial crown worn by the late sovereign throughout her coronation. The queen, for her final journey, moved 1000’s of individuals, who accompanied her in solemn silence, usually adopted by loud applause. A ceremonial validated by the queen herself, if she had been to die in Scotland. A method of doing politics with out doing it, in line with Teresa, a Scotswoman crossed in Edinburgh: “I do not know if it is unintended or not, however dying at Balmoral, doing all this procession all the best way to Edinburgh earlier than returning to London… It’s totally political, with out actually being so.”
They had been tens of 1000’s at Saint-Gilles Cathedral in Edinburgh, then a whole lot of 1000’s at Westminster Corridor, in London, when the themes of the Crown had been capable of collect in entrance of the coffin. In each cities, enormous queues the place everybody was prepared to attend for hours. In Edinburgh, for instance, the queue was greater than two kilometers lengthy, and crossed half of the town heart. In London, some positioned themselves 48 hours prematurely. 750,000 individuals are anticipated.
It’s nevertheless an intimate factor to go in entrance of the coffin of a deceased. However invariably, the solutions had been the identical: “She was our queen”, “We wish to pay him our respects”, “She was a bit like a grandmother”. And every time the identical reminder: “Sure however why ?” And infrequently nothing. The thriller. She was the queen, interval. That is sufficient to queue for hours, at night time, within the chilly and within the rain.
“You continue to must do not forget that she’s been there since most Britons had been born, like their dad and momrecollects Alma-Pierre Bonnet, lecturer in British civilization at Jean Moulin-Lyon 3 College. She has at all times been the watermark of their lives: you may’t spend a day in the UK with out seeing her face, between the cash and the banknotes, the stamps… Or the acronym HM, for ‘Her Majesty ”, written far and wide.”
The queen has subsequently imposed herself in on a regular basis life, be it. Particularly since certainly, in 70 years it has been, as lots of the British individuals I’ve interviewed say, a “fixed in crises”. She was already there in the course of the Second World Warfare, not as a sovereign however as a princess. It was there throughout decolonization. There once more in the course of the oil disaster of 1973, and the entry into the European Financial Neighborhood, the identical 12 months. There for the Falklands Warfare in 1982, for the primary Gulf Warfare in 1991, then for the second in 2003. All the time there for the monetary disaster of 2008, the Brexit of 2016, the Covid disaster in 2020. by no means took a stand, content material to be an affable, smiling, motherly determine, due to efficient Buckingham storytelling. “On the spin-doctor aspect, they’re very sturdy, emphasizes Alma-Pierre Bonnet. Since 1997 [et la mort de Diana]they centered on a constructive picture, and gathered round a small household” to construct a story, analyzes the researcher.
However there’s extra to this aspect “respondent” that many Britons level out. As a result of Alma-Pierre Bonnet doesn’t bear in mind such enthusiasm for earlier English sovereigns. “This funeral jogs my memory of that of Winston Churchill. Multiple individual, the UK says goodbye to an period, that of British unity”he explains.
“It is a sure thought of Britain that’s useless. The British really feel like they’re saying goodbye to an period.”Alma Pierre Bonnet
Principally, “regardless of decolonisation, regardless of Brexit which actually tore the UK aside, the British nonetheless considered themselves as an excellent nation. It is a very nostalgic nationdecrypts Alma-Pierre Bonnet. It’s the legacy of Churchill, of the British Empire that’s disappearing. The British are certainly dwelling a second of loneliness.”
“France has roughly understood that alone, it was now not so sturdy as that”, in line with him. It subsequently stays for the British to take the identical path, those that are going “to start, as we come out of the Covid disaster, to find the actual results of Brexit”. Right here is maybe this little one thing which from right here appears incomprehensible, even inexplicable. By mourning their queen, the British are additionally mourning a sure thought of their nation. And that, maybe, is properly price a couple of hours standing collectively, recounting reminiscences of the previous earlier than saluting 70 years of historical past one final time.