The Enforcement of Joy and Grief

Posted on April 10, 2021

I was wondering today why I can’t seem to register any emotion when a royal event happens. I always find myself feeling awkward, bemused and irritated when excessive grief is foisted upon me. When ‘a nation grieves’ where does it leave us poor souls who are not grieving? Are we supposed to join in with the grieving? Or be damned for not being patriotic enough?

Taking myself right back to my childhood, I think a key influence was my Scottish grandmother. She had angst towards serfdom, inequality and the bizarre act of bowing to another human. I have several vague memories of her cussing at the television and having a general disdain of the aristocracy. Where this stemmed from, I am not certain.

Parental indifference

This obviously left some sort of mark on me, as I can remember my grandmother telling me to bow to no one. My parents, as I recall, were pretty much indifferent to royalty. They only showed vague interest or bemusement at what all the fuss was about. However, I can’t really recall them being staunch Republicans either. They certainly had no interest in waving flags or organising street parties. Their social life involved pubs and house parties but definitely not flags or bunting. 

My only opportunity to see royalty was when the Queen came to open something at AWRE Aldermaston, the local bomb factory. We were given an afternoon off school to wave at her and were allowed go home afterwards. I can remember getting there and standing in a big crowd. Then I dodged off with a couple of my mates to play footie before she arrived. I just wasn’t interested in waving a flag at another human.

Charles and Di

After that, when I was about 14, there was the marriage of Charles and Diana. This was, as I recall, made a public holiday. My brother, Bruce, was 21 and he had a car, so we took advantage of a day off. We went fishing at Amey’s Pit, near Burghfield. And I caught a 4lb bream, which, is a great personal memory, I can’t remember the wedding.

Thereafter, all I have felt is occasional resentment when I see them dishing out country houses as wedding presents like we would with toasters. Whilst we receive presents like woks that never get used, how is it other humans get mansions? I can’t compute that, I really can’t. If the correct path to righteousness is human equality, then royalty is a pothole on that path.

However, my desire to see royal heads on spikes is only fleeting. It is generally saved for events like deaths and marriages and the public fawning these events create. The Death of Lady Diana left me spending what seemed an eternity avoiding a bizarre festival of grieving. I just wanted it all to go away and for people to behave rationally again.

Wills and Kate

Then, when William got married, I found myself personally insulted when I saw a clip of him and Kate doing circles in an Aston Martin. It was not long after the banking crash and we were being told by David Cameron, “We’re all in this together”.  I felt like they were taking the piss out of me and still do now, if I am honest. We weren’t in it together at all.

So, now we have the death of Prince Phillip and once again, I am told I am mourning his loss. I know this because newsreaders and politicians say that that ‘the whole nation is mourning’. This is clearly not true because around 35% of the UK population are not monarchists. Around 50% of that 35%, openly despise the monarchy. That’s around 20 million people who are not interested. Why are they not represented in a modern parliamentary democracy? 

The Beeb

I say this because last night, both BBC1 and BBC2 shut down their programming and had exactly the same tributes on each channel . That is utterly ludicrous and feels like serfdom by force. It is what makes indifferent people turn into radicals who want to see heads on spikes. No one likes their intelligence insulted yet no one does it better than the BBC when a royal family member dies. Rather than feeling indifferent, Nicholas Witchell makes me want to vomit myself transparent.

For the time being, 65% of the nation want a democracy. So, in my opinion, it is correct that the BBC should show a television tribute for those who want to watch it. They could have done that on one channel. By blocking choice, they are not being representative and are acting like a media dictatorship. This fuels resentment amongst not just the republican movement but the indifferent as well. 

With some irony, it could be that by forcing serfdom onto the unwilling, the BBC end up being the reason why the pitchforks arrive.

2 Replies to "The Enforcement of Joy and Grief"

  • Norman House
    April 12, 2021 (9:26 am)

    The whole idea of Royalty leaves me cold in this day and age. I was more vehement in this opinion in the past when the Civil List was much longer and so many people that no one except fawning royalists had heard of received huge swathes of cash for doing nothing.

    With this particular government and the power they misuse, there could actually be a place for a monarchy to keep them in check. The fact that they don’t or maybe can’t use that power of veto makes them even more redundant. I don’t buy the ‘we need them because they bring more money into the country’. Tourists would come anyway (in normal times) and they could live for centuries on their personal wealth without recourse to the public purse.

    Two recent events, the strange contrived interview with Meghan Markle and Harry and the recent death of Phillip: It’s fine for people to be interested if they want. The former event I can’t find any sympathy for any party. My only thought is, if you have a problem with your family/your in-laws, sort it out or get out. They did the latter, apparently for a quieter life, then tried to gain public sympathy for how badly treated they were (or she was) all played out in a very public way. Call me cynical and who knows whether she was actually bullied, but she’s a huge prima donna who doesn’t like to be upstaged; it just seems to me to be another dramatic storyline from Suits!

    The tribute to Phillip by the BBC will turn more neutral people against the BBC as they might see it (as you’ve suggested) as having mourning thrust upon them. Interesting that the viewing that day suggested a change in viewing figures with many people switching away from BBC, with Gogglebox having greater viewing figures! A programme that can be entertaining and features ordinary, some of them ‘very ordinary people’, giving their opinions on TV shows and life in general. In some ways that is a more accurate barometer of the general public than the BBC or politicians telling us how we should feel..

    • Bob Lethaby
      April 12, 2021 (10:36 pm)

      Great reply Norman. I concur fully.

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