On the death of The Queen

2 minute read

There is no escaping that we are living through an historic period. The first change of the UK’s head of state in just over 70 years. The loss of a figure known, and loved, throughout the world. The death of The Queen.

So, why am I so unaffected by it?

There is absolutely no escaping the supposed enormity of the moment. All media are full of the news, retrospectives of The Queen’s life, coverage of the mourning events, explanations of a succession process that 90% of people will never have seen in their lifetime.

And there has clearly been a genuine outpouring of emotion from people, ordinary people, who are going through feelings of grief and loss. But I feel none of them. It is a peculiar position to be in. A sense that I, somehow, must be at fault. That there is some mental or emotional failing that leaves me unable to share the feelings of loss that are ‘normal’.

Some might be down to my beliefs. I am a republican, and view a hereditary monarchy as a mix between being faintly ridiculous in the modern age, and offering a lack of transparency and accountability that’s incompatible with democracy.

But republicanism does not divorce me from reality or humanity. The Queen has been head of state for my entire life, a constant that peered down from portraits and up from bank notes, the ever-present at national moments. And every death is a tragedy, leaving a host of family and friends with a grief they will have to resolve.

And that, possibly, is why I feel so unaffected. The Queen, to me, was more of a symbol than living person. While I was, on a few occasions, in the same room as her, it was a surreal experience. Briefings beforehand served to highlight that they were someone apart, a monarch, rather than a person. While I know others saw a different side to her, I did not.

This is not to deny or belittle those who are genuinely affected by her death. Obviously her loved ones will be feeling the pain most acutely — and I do wonder how able they are to process their grief when there is a spotlight on them in public, and a seemingly endless list of succession-related pageantry in private. And I know there will be those with no connection to the Royal Family who are feeling a loss that might be just as real and painful as for a loved one.

But while I can see it in others, I cannot feel it in myself, and will just have to accept that is my failing.