And then things seemed to stop

In Britain, there have been few manifestations of extreme grief at the death of Queen Elizabeth.  But there is a profound and shared sense of loss, that everything has changed, and all expressed in a controlled way.  How very British.

She had breezed past the markers of mortality for so long, that in a quiet moment one could almost believe that she was a truly permanent fixture.

But the singing of God Save the King on the accession of King Charles was a marker of finality.  And a reminder that one can’t step in the same river twice.

Only the very old will have distant memories of that anthem sung for King George.  But for the Queen, one suspects such memories were powerful.

Because her father’s evident sense of duty in taking up the burdens of the Crown – which contributed to his premature death and her early accession – were formative in her maturity.

How else might one explain her stubborn determination in carrying on in his tradition?

One can guess that Her Majesty felt she had a great deal to live up to.  Most would say she did it superbly.  

And now that burden falls to her son.

Burkean conservatism is all about reconciling continuity and change, when change is necessary and can be undertaken in accordance with the traditions of the country and people.

Queen Elizabeth embodied something about ‘us’ and on her death, we need to reconsider just what ‘we’ means.

That oughtn’t be too hard, should it?  After all, we know who we are.  Or we think we do.  We’re just not entirely sure about those others, who might also claim to be part of ‘us’.

Perhaps, just for a moment, reflection on her life and death can briefly refract our thinking and remind us that while it does seem impossible to love one another, we do sometimes need to try a bit harder.

And, at some point in the future, we can also reflect on confident republican assertions that the monarchy will not long outlive the Queen.

Put like that, it’s hard to be proved wrong.

But the new King’s honouring of his mother (and father) and devotion to her legacy suggests it might be worth waiting for the right opportunity.

Because a human being can embody something that otherwise defies expression. She (or indeed he) can make the intangible concrete in a different way to symbols like flags (New Zealanders might recall) or words in legal documents.  

Of course, in the beginning was the Word.  But don’t forget the still surprisingly widespread conviction that it became Flesh and dwelt among us.

2 thoughts on “And then things seemed to stop

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