Here we’re, then. It’s not usually you may say you witnessed the tip of an period. However by definition, the second Elizabethan age is over. Catafalque provides solution to carriage, medieval corridor to medieval chapel, public service to personal relaxation.
The manufactured controversy-froth (celeb queue-jumping, vacation camps turfing visitors out for the day, whether or not Harry may put on his uniform, whether or not Paddington iconography might be grafted on to the pageantry of centuries) has dispersed and actuality has emerged. A actuality minutely managed and meticulously deliberate for, however right here nonetheless.
If it’s not your type of factor, Channel 4 has programming in regards to the royal gardens – and if it’s actually not your type of factor then over on Channel 5, The Emoji Film awaits. The BBC, in the meantime, is filling the unforgiving minutes earlier than the funeral correct begins with Huw Edwards interviewing speaking heads. They vary from the polished skilled (Sebastian Coe, Gyles Brandreth) to the overwhelmed and genuinely shifting (Dame Kelly Holmes) by way of the irreducibly egotistical (Andrew Lloyd Webber, who tells us his Requiem was carried out in Westminster Abbey). Over on ITV, they lean extra closely on vox pops, Jennie Bond, footage of the horses ready at Hyde Park barracks, and photographs of the 1000’s of individuals – together with a resplendent pearly king and queen – who line the route.
The abbey fills up with the nice and good and Boris Johnson. The coffin is transferred to the state gun carriage and – oh England, my England – pulled by 142 naval rankings to the abbey.
As soon as the funeral procession correct begins there may be, correctly, nearly no commentary from the BBC (a bit extra from ITV) till after the service. The readings go very properly till we hit Liz Truss, who seems to be and sounds as if she has not too long ago been hit with a studded bat. The archbishop of Canterbury provides both a deeply platitudinous sermon about fundamental Christian ideas or an excellent kicking to about half the congregation, relying how a lot you learn right into a line about these “clinging to service” and who will and received’t be remembered after they die.
The pomp, the circumstance, the pageantry: after all these are excessive, they’re distinctive, they’re to many absurd. However as you watch, the set-dressing falls away and the commonality stays. There are fewer hats at a commoner’s funeral, however the faces beneath them – pressed lips, supportive smiles – are the identical. The second of disbelief when the coffin arrives – not carried by the Grenadier Guards, however the quiet prayer that no person fumbles is identical – holding the precise Queen’s physique, evokes the disbelief we now have all felt at funerals when the late cherished one is introduced in. Actually? – you suppose. No extra? No extra. You get via the readings all proper, whether or not they’re by heads of the church or the native vicar, however the music – from a CD or a lone piper – undoes you.
The final publish and reveille are performed and the funeral procession units off to Wellington Arch, and from there, St George’s Chapel at Windsor Fortress. The committal service by the dean of Windsor would be the final televised half. The Queen might be buried beside her husband, mother and father and sister. The household will maintain their very own service at 7pm, after the cameras have gone.
You can – and apologies if this errs too near the unforgivably maudlin – see the Queen’s demise as a final act of service to the nation. As a result of, together with many others around the globe after all, we’re a grieving nation. We have now had two years of family members dying unnatural deaths. They’ve usually died alone, and we now have gone with out most of the rituals and comforts we would have liked to assist us mourn and heal. Together with the Queen herself, who sat – as Covid protocol dictated – alone at Prince Philip’s funeral, and whose picture grew to become a examine in distinction to many pictures of the federal government disobeying each lockdown legislation it was imposing. Her funeral was a possibility to alleviate these stymied sorrows and shed some tears for everybody and the whole lot we misplaced, en masse as a substitute of in horrible isolation.
It was – because the odd however correct phrase has it – an excellent funeral. Not least as a result of it was in recognition of a real good. There was no painful looking for euphemism, no cautious elisions to be negotiated. Every little thing in her life grew to become her just like the leaving of it. No matter doubts you might entertain in regards to the establishment as an entire, it’s arduous to disclaim that Elizabeth II was the very best of it. God assist, in these fractious and fragmenting instances, the King.