As I watched the Queen’s funeral ceremonies this morning, my eyes were drawn to Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Beautifully dressed, right down to Charlotte’s precious little black hat, they stood quietly beside their parents. They didn’t squirm or fidget or need a video game to keep them occupied. They were being taught that there are times when we need to put up with a little discomfort and set aside our own agendas and things we’d rather be doing in order to show respect and honor for another person. Their great-grandmother did that every day of her life.
I was up at 5:30 this morning to watch the funeral. As a cradle Episcopalian who prefers her faith with a healthy dose of pomp and pageantry, (not to mention sublime music) this was must-see TV. I know there is a sense that the monarchy has outlived its usefulness, that’s it’s a relic from another time and no longer relevant in today’s world. But I would counter that by suggesting there is something to be said for an institution that still represents deep commitment and service to its people. That for all its over-the-top ceremonial trappings, is, at its heart, a class act. Queen Elizabeth personified those qualities with grace and dignity right up to welcoming the new prime minister two days before she died.
Like us, the UK has more than its share of problems right now from political division to economic uncertainty. But for the last ten days, the people of Great Britain managed to lay aside their differences and political angst in order to honor the woman who has served as their Queen for 70 years. They were able to step outside themselves and pause for a time to honor the only Queen most of them have ever known. We’ve seen the footage—David Beckham standing in line with his fellow countrymen and the elderly gentleman dressed in a Union Jack suit who struggled out of his wheelchair for one final good-by to his Queen. I don’t know that there is any past or present leader in this country who would be afforded such unified respect and gratitude upon his or her passing. I find that sad as well as deeply disturbing.
I was awe-struck watching the nearly hour-long procession after the funeral. The entire royal family walked out in the open behind the casket as it passed thousands of people who were quiet and bowed their heads or saluted. No one heckled or held up signs that said “Let’s go, Charlie” or God forbid, crouched behind a monument with a high-powered rifle. I don’t know–the Brits don’t mess around, so maybe they had all the potential troublemakers locked up in some ancient dungeon. One of the news commentators remarked that the security people around President Biden worry about every moment he is out in the open and vulnerable in a crowded public setting.
The Queen has been laid to rest, and in a few months, a new King Charles will be crowned. I hope the monarchy survives although, admittedly, it needs to change to better meet the needs of the world we’re living in now. I think it will. If nothing else, King Charles is an environmental and climate change activist. And Prince William and Princess Kate appear to be raising wonderful children who know how to behave in public. Who are learning what it means to be grateful to those who have gone before them. To those who have done the hard work, fought the good fight and given their all for the good of their beloved country and its people, often at great personal cost.
Rest in Peace, Queen Elizabeth.