These Days…

Tuesday 13th September 2022

Tears come at odd moments… when the pedal notes sounded in St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday evening to mark the tune of the first hymn, ‘All My Hope on God is founded…’ Hymns, not of any kind, they must be the right hymns and so far have been… but hymns cause the eyes to pick. Why? It’s mumbo jumbo, of course. At the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, on Friday night, a small man appeared before the performance began (which was Salomé, of all things) and said there would be a minute’s silence, then the orch would play the National Anthem, whereupon without being asking the audience rose in its entirety and sang ‘God Save the King.’ Few believe that God will save the King. He didn’t save the Queen, in the end. But recounting this event to friends, I am on the verge of tears.

It was so wrong to cancel the Last Night of the Proms. But brings people together more at times like this than music? They could have sung Land of Hope and Glory over and over again and everybody in floods.

Already diminished in death, Queen Elizabeth now, no more The Queen. Queen Elizabeth was also her mother. Her ordinary high street hearse, the only exception being its glass roof, left Balmoral but the Royal Standard now flies elsewhere. Poignant are the photographs of her in childhood and youth; ‘lovely’ I think is the right word, or the much used ‘radiant’. Then she grew old but battled on until in the end Death got her. It’s what happens to all of us. So a human story is placed at the heart of National Life. What we contemplate in the Monarchy are the profundities of existence. These are not my words but the words of the Reverend Richard Coles who adds that he used to think it was all reactionary mumbo-jumbo but not any more. It is mumbo-jumbo though but it is important that it should be. I would add that while there is humanity there is also defiance of that humanity –  in heraldry, ceremony and splendour as well as succession. All families hope to continue in their various ways. So, as one reign ends, another immediately but tentatively begins.

Whoever invented Constitutional Monarchy was a genius. Ours is 250 years old or so. Above politics, the Monarch, although powerless, is above politicians. This matters.  The Monarchy retains its place by popular consent. If that is lost, it goes. Every day is election day for the Sovereign and his family.

Admiration for the late Queen is almost universal – as a person, some say, perhaps surprised or even annoyed at their own shock and dismay, as if her position as Head of State could somehow be regarded separately. But this is not possible. A constitutional monarch can only serve, can only ‘always be there’, can only embody some higher purified essence of their country’s history. The difference is only in how effectively, with what sincerity and constancy, the individual sovereign bears these responsibilities.

All nations have their story which is their history. Much in British history was wrong or not what we would do now but it is our history and we arrived here today only by that route. We can still be moved to recall it and see that it is a part of us without necessarily approving or admiring. What is powerful is the sheer passage of time and that we are, in some elusive way which is hard to put into words, a part of something.

Other nations have appeared to re-invent themselves, usually after devastating trauma and upheaval. But have they really? Does any nation ever entirely escape its past?

By this time next week, when Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 will have reached her final resting place, the Stock market will not respectfully rise nor will energy prices graciously decline. Normal life will resume and the tide will appear to wash over these days. But we will all know that in some other key our passage through this life has been sounded and we will never forget.

 

Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2022 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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