Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at her home in Balmoral last Thursday and the world has not been the same. As a person who grew up in the British Commonwealth, Her Late Majesty’s story is familiar to me, as are the life stories of most members of The Royal Family dating back nearly a millennium.
Something that has struck me in the wake of the sad occasion of the death of Her Majesty has been the response by some members of the public.
People somehow feel that in order to express disestablishmentarian views, it is necessary to denigrate a family in mourning. Yes, monarchies are outdated in these times. Governments are outdated, too. Democratic societies are ruled by influential groups calling for laws to censor dictionary words. Large corporations pay lobby groups to (bribe) lawmakers. Most people don’t go out to vote. We pay taxes that fund overseas wars while people at home live on the street.
But these same people saying nasty things about a woman with impeccable work ethic (70 years full-time) are happy to worship PR created effigies built upon armies of bots. Their respected divas buy their own albums and pay to have them piped into your local shopping malls. Harry Styles is a Gucci dress-up doll who can’t act. Tell me, do you know how the world really works?
We should not be bowing and scraping to anyone. Royalty is anachronistic, and at times the formality can feel silly. But it recalls a time when there was reverence for the dignity of human existence.
Let us recognise this for what it is. First, by themselves, the pomp and pageantry are real life versions of a fairytale. Imagine being inside the pages of a storybook as a story is unfolding. This is the magic and mystery of royalty.
Second, it is naïve for anyone to believe that reigning monarchs in this day and age are sitting around as staff serve them tea and biscuits. King Charles III, when he was Duke of Cornwall, hired 31 accountants at Clarence House. Among his staff were researchers and other advisors. He is a consummate business networker. He has met every head of state in the entire world. And he is on speaking terms with them: even the despots who starve their own people and hold stashes of national wealth in tiny island banks.
KC is a diplomat, Long Live KC.
A word that I use to describe the way people should act is “decorum”. That brings me to my third point: The King rules by consent of the people. It’s in the Constitution, the people voted on it, and the Privy Council affirmed everything at the Accession Council. Rather than insulting the person at the top, it would be a better idea to try and change the minds of people who consented for him to rule.
Instead of saying vulgar things, people should be taking time to reflect on the meaning and value of the stories we are fed in the media. Instead of insulting a culture, tradition, and history, people should try to understand the hidden hand at play in situations.
Now, I feel I should inform you that none of the negative comments are moving the needle. KC’s press office has been using the furore surrounding his candid on-camera remarks to boost his image as a strong male leader. The commentary and images firmly separate him from his late mother The Queen. They humanise him, and prepare people for what to expect. This is brilliant British PR at work.
And you know what? People are eating it up. More people are lining the streets to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. More people are asking to meet the new King. The funeral of the Late Queen will be the most watched televised broadcast of all time. Royal magic is created by connected people in media, government and business. They are advised by educated people who are diligent, bright and perceptive. And rest assured, there was lots of data analytics in the mix.
What is the right way to act when a person dies and you didn’t agree with their politics? Ignore the coverage. Get on with your life. There are plenty of better things to be in a strop about.