Philip’s death signals end of an era

What is important is to understand that this moment was always coming. It should not be dismissed as public infantilisation, although, as ever where monarchy is concerned, there is something of that in the mix. This is also, willy-nilly, the beginning of the end of an era, and the gradual start of a turning point for an institution and the UK itself.

By

Opinion

April 19, 2021 - 8:20 AM

On April 17, 2021, Windsor, United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth arrives at the funeral of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle. (Stephen Lock/i-Images via Zuma Press/TNS) * China, France, Italy, Spain, Taiwan and UK Rights OUT *

Because of the pandemic and its restrictions, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor was less grand event than might once have been expected. Only 30 mourners attended. Television ensured that this private ceremony of farewell would be acted out on the global stage.

As a result, the funeral’s emotional hold over the wider nation was undiminished. There is a single overriding, deeply shared and understandable reason for this. Most of us have lived under only one British monarch, Elizabeth II. In the days since her husband’s death on April 9, attention has seamlessly moved from the departed duke to the effect on those who remain. The elderly and widowed Queen, who will be 95 this week, is thus more than ever at the forefront of a respectful national mind.

The Queen’s loss became publicly and poignantly visible on Saturday, as chief mourner of her husband. The Queen is said to possess a practical understanding of the crown’s theatrical power. “I have to be seen to be believed” is reportedly one of her catchphrases. She provided the dominant images and memory of the day. 

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