The Queen has died. It’s a weird thing as, for most of us, she’s just always been there, a constant fixture in our lives, her face on our money, on our postage stamps. I’ve never given an awful lot of thought about what it meant to have a Queen.
However, considering I never met her and that I have no connection with her or her family, I did find myself quite upset when we knew she was dying. When the news broadcast said the close family were rushing to her bedside, I did get a little teary but I realised that was because it brought back the morning that I got a call from the Care Home to tell me I should come to see mum. It reminded me of how I tried and failed to convince my brother to come there and then, and not leave it another couple of days. He ended up missing her by a few hours. As did, apparently, her youngest grandson.
My brother mentioned the grandson. I was about to say: just like you missed saying goodbye to mum, when my brother said, the prince should have gone earlier. I wondered if that was a sort of displaced emotion, because my brother should also have gone earlier. Anyway, I didn’t point that out to him, but kept my own counsel.
Sadly, many people I’ve known have died, which is to be expected at my age, but the Queen’s death did remind me particularly of mum’s death. I suppose we blank things out when they are too hard to remember, and when something happens that is reminiscent of the original trauma, it triggers the emotions that we couldn’t allow ourselves to feel at the time, or were too busy to feel, or that we didn’t want to remember
Look at how we’ve collectively blanked out those years of Covid. Clearing out the house in preparation to move, I found the diaries I’d written during the lockdowns. Even though it’s only a couple of years ago, I was actually shocked at how little I remember of the difficult reality of how it was. So, when a major event – and it is a historical event no matter what you think of the monarchy – happens, it resonates on a deep level as the Queen was a constant fixture in our lives.
I don’t think I’ll feel the same about Charles. He and I were born virtually a month apart, and although when I was a very little girl, I might have imagined marrying a prince, by the time I’d reached my teens it was quite clear to me that he wasn’t a boy I’d get on with. Being the same age, I’m never going to really take him seriously as my King. But I was fascinated and intensely curious to observe the rituals and pageantry of the country where I was born.
I’m now staying with friends, recovering from the trauma of moving out of mum’s house. They have an apartment in Spain and I can feel myself recuperating in the sunshine and warmth. But, even though none of us would describe ourselves as monarchists, the three of us sat together and watched the Queen’s funeral. And found it quite emotional.
Although I understand intellectually what it means to have a constitutional monarch, I’m still as confused as ever about why it should matter so much, why so many people should feel so emotionally connected. I’m still no further forward in working out what it actually meant psychologically to have a Queen reigning over us – or from now on, a King.