Is any of this “grief” real?

September 11, 2022

by Martin Odoni

Before I begin, an apology that the blog’s been a bit quiet the last few weeks. Demands of my studies intervened, and I only finished my final assignment of the year last night.

Diana not quite revisited

Anyway. I feel like I have spent much of the last forty-eight hours and more in a daze. Twenty-five years ago, we saw the death of Princess Diana in a car crash, and a strange collective hysteria that seized the nation. It was quite hard to understand it in some ways, and I recall getting a bit caught up in it myself. But the interesting aspect of it for me was that it was difficult to say what caused it. Indeed, much of the tidal wave of upset and anger was against the British media for being seen, perhaps correctly, to have hounded Diana to her grave.

We have a similar hysteria now due to the death of Queen Elizabeth. But it has a disturbing difference.

Now I do not wish to give the impression that I am completely indifferent to the Queen’s passing. I cannot say I have been happy or sad about the succession. I do feel… something about it. But it is not joy, it is not grief. I do feel slightly down that a figure who, whether we like it or not, was always in the background for as long as we have lived will suddenly not be there. There is a small hole in the tapestry of my existence now. It is like an emotion that has not yet been given a name. But it is not something I feel any impulse to cry about.

I also feel odd that Friday was the first day of my life when Britain had a King. It sounded even more obsolete than having a Queen, perhaps just because there had been no King here since long before I was born. I cannot think about that without some element of emotion. But again, it is unnamed, a sense of confusion caused by witnessing an unusual rearrangement of the country’s ‘normal equilibrium.’ Again, what I feel is not grief or joy, and I feel no impulse to burst into tears of either.

Mourning by media command

Except, it is clear that the mainstream media, to a man, do want me to burst into tears about it. They want us all to cry about it, and so we have had days of shameless, gushing, fawning praise for the Queen, wall-to-wall coverage well above saturation level, trying to beat us over our heads with the idea that we have lost someone really important to us and our lives will be emptier without her.

The MSM are not reporting to you. The are giving you instructions

At the same time, we are also being bombarded with the idea that we should feel elation at the smooth, swift succession of Charles to the throne. That smooth process means nothing much will change and we can carry on…

Wait… what? Charles becoming King is a good thing? So our lives will not be emptier? So why should we burst into tears about the Queen dying and getting out of the…?

(The rest of my question is drowned out by the roar of ten-gun salutes over the River Thames, and from the walls of Edinburgh Castle.)

I have always been bemused by celebrations of New Year; if we are celebrating the passing of the Old Year into history, why did we celebrate its arrival twelve months earlier? I now find myself experiencing exactly the same bemusement at celebrations of the New King. If a New King is a great prospect, what is wrong with feeling total indifference at the passing of the Old Queen, who was in any event only getting in his way?

We seem to be celebrating an entirely automatic process as though it is somehow a wonderful surprise when it works the same way it always has for centuries.

Artificial emotion

I do not doubt that many thousands of people genuinely are grieving for the Queen, and I do not wish to interfere in that. If they need a maternal or matriarchal figurehead to look to at all times, then that is a matter for themselves, and I genuinely hope they can come to terms with it.

But all this media-dictated “You will mourn for the loss of our most gracious liege now!” and “You will show great joy at the rise of the new King now!” malarkey is not aimed at people like that. It is aimed at the rest of us, an artificial, regimented grief-and-joy that is obviously unreal. It stands in notable contrast to when Princess Diana died, where the grief seemed far more spontaneous, and dealt quite a backlash against the media. That artificial emotion is instead being driven in large part by the media this time, and is only happening because we are being made to feel that grief for the Queen and joy for the King are the ways we ‘should’ be reacting. And by extension, that we should feel some shame if we do not react that way.

It stops us asking questions after all. Such as, now that a reigning monarch is gone, is this not now the ideal time to have a debate over whether or not the entire, obsolete, avaricious and corrupt institution of the Monarchy should be done away with altogether?

Yes, Jonathan is right. It is fine not to get caught up in the tidal wave of silliness

Have no doubt, avoiding that issue was front-and-centre of thoughts for everyone in the Government on Saturday, when Charles’ proclamation as the new King was rushed through with almost indecent haste.

That is actually causing far, far more emotion in me in itself than the death of the Queen or the succession of the King – mainly great unease and disgust. People should be free to react as comes natural to them. Including not react at all if it means little to them – all else is manipulation and gaslighting. There is nothing unacceptable about rolling one’s eyes instead, or even reacting with satisfaction at seeing the end of a Monarch, and wishing to debate whether we all wish to continue subsidising an already ludicrously-rich, largely-functionless family.

Hagiography

The disgust I mention above has led me to push back quite a bit against the media narrative. The Queen was not the paragon of duty and perfection the media, especially the BBC of course, have been trying to persuade us she was. I get particularly irritated at watching the entire mainstream line up to worship the Queen’s memory they themselves have heavily airbrushed into “tireless duty and service.” Oh please, Huw Edwards… please, Nicholas Witchell… please, the entire Tory and Labour Parties!

This is embarrassing in itself, but it is made worse when we consider that many of these media and politicians were the same simplifying snobs who wrote off Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as “a cult,” and Corbyn himself as “Magic Grandpa.”

The same people writing off Corbyn as “Magic Grandpa” are the same ones who believe there is literal power in becoming “God’s anointed”

Boots change feet so easily, eh? The cultists, it turns out, are the journalists themselves, who have now spent over 50 hours telling us how great a loss it is to us that “Magic Grandma” is no longer with us.

What did the Queen actually do?

What they never really get to the nub of is why anyone should believe that. It matters not a jot how the media try to polish this, they are basically kissing the dead Queen’s toes for seventy years of stridently doing nothing. Elizabeth II of England and I of Scotland interpreted the need for political impartiality in the Head of State so extremely that she just went through the motions her entire reign. She rubber-stamped every act by a Prime Minister, even ones that plainly exceeded the powers invested in 10 Downing Street; –

The Queen would not intervene when Winston Churchill’s ‘peace-time Government’ massacred Mau-Mau fighters in Ghana in the early-1950s.

The Queen more or less ignored Edward Heath’s cover-up of the causes of, and likely involvement in, Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

The Queen would not intervene after Margaret Thatcher illegally started using police as shock troopers against protesting miners in the mid-1980s.

The Queen would not sack Tony Blair as Prime Minister when it became clear that he had gone to war in Iraq, killing possibly millions of people and destabilising the entire Middle East region, on entirely false pretences.

The Queen did not dismiss Theresa May, even though she had falsely claimed to the Queen’s face that she was able to form a workable Government after the 2017 General Election, when no coalition deal had yet been agreed between the Tories and the Democratic Unionist Party by the point her allotted time had run out – effectively cheating, as Jeremy Corbyn should have been given a turn to try and form an administration.

Nor would The Queen fire Boris Johnson when he manipulated prorogation powers in a way that endangered the UK constitution, just to get his own way on Brexit.

Administration is not politics

Such interventions would not have been political. They would have been administrative acts to make sure Government stayed within its own rules and parameters, and should have been seen as necessary to keep Prime Ministers honest. But the Queen was clearly afraid that any interventions on her part would be interpreted as political, and so she just looked the other way. She just carried on opening bridges, cutting the ribbons on new supermarkets, greeting dignitaries, accruing vast wealth from the public via the state (if firing a Prime Minister is a political act, surely taking public money is too?) and insisting that anything outside those limits was nothing to do with her.

So what was the use of the Queen? What is the point of a Head of State at all if not to make sure that the Constitution is properly obeyed, and that any corrupt behaviours, or actions exceeding the powers of their office, by any person in Government are brought to account? It is perfectly possible to carry out that side of the Monarch’s duties while remaining politically impartial; you just make sure you only intervene because you genuinely believe there has a been a breach of the rules, and not because you just dislike the policy being pursued.

In that regard, I have better hopes for Charles, who has a history of being more pro-active than his mother. We do need something to contain Prime Ministers who since the 1980s in particular have been exceeding their mandates with a casualness bordering on entitlement. So long as Charles sticks strictly to the rulebook and does not start contesting actual policy, he should be more effective.

So many people are taken in

Almost as disturbing as the hagiography is the way people are being emotionally battered into line by it. I must know hundreds of people who always hated the Monarchy and privilege of birth, but are now demanding fellow anti-Monarchists show some respect because Elizabeth was “someone’s gran.”

Anyone else reminded of this from Not The Nine O’Clock News?

Anti-monarchists are frequently scared of their own politics

I do not accept that we have to respect a Queen who took every advantage the throne gave her, in terms of wealth and luxury, and did not have the courage to intervene when Prime Ministers overstepped their rights. I do not even respect her right to have ever become Queen, established as it was in the blood of Anglo-Saxons trying to defend their homeland from William The Conqueror – Elizabeth II’s distant ancestor. That ancestry alone is what gave her the English crown. Just as similar bloody conquests by more of her ancestors, the Kings of Alba, over the Picts and Strathclyde-Britons began the Scottish succession to which she also claimed ‘Divine Right’.

I do feel sympathy for the Royals, as I do for any family who loses one of its members. But why do I have to cry for the Royals specifically? Everyone loses relatives, it is part of life.

Look at this picture that’s been circulating on social media since Friday; –

Captures the warped nature of modern Britain perfectly

And do you know what I find really disgusting about it? Worse even than the totally unnecessary scale of inequality it brings attention to, and more stomach-churning than the obscene luxury of one of the figures and the cruel destitution of the other?

It is that we have spent the last three days being told to grieve for the rich figure, after being told for twelve years just to ignore the one sleeping rough. It is utterly nauseating being told to twist our minds so absurdly. If you want me to respect the Queen, then you need me to respect an imbalance like the one laid bare in the picture above.

I will not do it. I will not respect a Monarch who tried to filch cash from a state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace. I will not respect a Monarch who used public money and her position at the top of the State to protect one of her sons from justice over his probable sexual misconduct with under-age girls.

To this end, during an increasingly desperate cost-of-living crisis, the need to ‘respect’ the dead Queen has actually led Parliament to suspending itself for over a week. (The rest of us still have to carry on going to work of course.) All sorts of events over the weekend have been postponed, including sports events like football, which many a worker in Britain spends all week in work waiting for as the only high point they have in their lives. ‘Rich men’s sports’ such as rugby union and golf, of course, have not been called off, because the spectators at these events tend to be well off and are likelier to co-operate with the regimented ‘grieving’.

Respect? Perhaps show some before demanding it? How can I respect any of this, when it all absolutely stinks of upper class contempt for the rest of us?

Basic dignity

I will not be part of this theatrical rubbish. Artificial emotions are not healthy, they confuse and distort the mind.

At the other end of the scale, I will not be looking for ways to send taunts to the new King or his family. I will not go to the Queen’s funeral and try to disrupt it. There would be no need for that.

But I will not pretend to cry or feel some personal loss over an old woman I never met. An old woman who wore an obsolete icon of jewels stolen from other countries, and whose many luxuries and pleasures she accrued were at the expense of the public, who were themselves barred from going anywhere near them.

I beg other people to stop allowing themselves to get dragged into letting out emotions they do not truly feel. That is not respect, it is not healthy, and it is not dignified. It is just yet another of the countless deceits this country’s decrepit Establishment has survived on since the Norman Conquest, and why should any of us feel compelled to help keep a tradition like that alive?

Says something about how the Succession has utterly blotted everything else out that this article doesn’t even get a chance to discuss the rise of Liz Truss – SERIOUSLY??!?! – as the new PM. Two Elizabeths – one Boris – and a Charlie

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