One of the nicer aspects of Irish nature is that we don’t like to badmouth the dead – until after the funeral, of course. Then all bets are off.
It’s something that seems ingrained in our psyche, and it’s actually quite a noble sentiment based on the principle that you allow a family to grieve and stand by the person before you start making scathing comments.
Obviously some of us haven’t received the memo since the death of Queen Elizabeth II last week.
Some Shamrock Rovers fans were first out of the traps last Thursday as they played at Tallaght. She had only been dead a few hours, but the chants of a segment of fans singing “Lizzie’s In A Box” brought the club the kind of worldwide attention no club really wants.
Then, in a sign of how extremely strange society has become, Jedward promptly took center stage to call for the abolition of the monarchy, on top of demanding that the newly installed King Charles “give back the six shires.”
But by and large, the Irish response to the Queen’s death has been respectful and empathetic.
The fact that Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill met Charles during his trip to Belfast yesterday is a sign of how times have changed. Finally, on his first official visit to Ireland in the 1990s, every engagement was greeted by Sinn Féin protesters, who complained about his presence on Irish soil when he was the patron of the notorious Parachute Regiment responsible for Bloody Sunday.
Events have shifted and most of us now seem a little more comfortable with the introduction of the British royal family. This newfound ease is largely due to the role played by the Queen during her state visit here in 2011. Whether speaking Irish, visiting Croke Park, discussing her beloved horse racing or simply strolling through Cork’s English Market, she charmed everyone she met.
It may not have changed our view of the monarchy, but it certainly changed our perception of it as a person and as a ruler. In essence, she seemed like a good egg, and people appreciated the obvious effort and preparation she had put in prior to her arrival.
While few of us are staunch fans of the royal family, many of us had a certain respect for the woman herself, and while I’ve always considered myself a soft-spoken Republican, I’ve been surprised to have a lump in my throat whenever the TV news channels die famous encounter between her and Paddington Bear – it’s always the little details that grab you, and for me it hit the spot.
The reaction of some people in other countries, however, was little less than an outburst of raging, seething spite.
An American professor said she hoped she “died in excruciating pain,” which was charming. Around noon yesterday, the Iranian government made its first official announcement of her death, comparing her to Hitler.
But while the list of seriously bad hottakes to the death of Queen Elizabeth is virtually endless, authorities in the UK now find themselves at the center of a civil rights storm over the way they have treated people who have publicly protested.
A young woman in Edinburgh has been arrested for brandishing a placard that reads “F*** Imperialism”.
Another man was arrested in Oxford for shouting during the accession speech: “But who voted for him?”
Former footballer Trevor Sinclair was suspended from his job as a pundit at Talksport for asking “Why should blacks and browns mourn the Queen?”
In Scotland, a woman who owns a chipper needed police protection as a crowd rallied to vandalize her shop after saying ‘Lizard Liz Is Dead. London Bridge has collapsed” – the same police who had to evacuate her have also said she may still be under investigation for breach of the peace.
This is madness. Britons like to think their homeland is democracy and that the Queen was the poster child of that democracy.
But the behavior of the British cops, and their eagerness to arrest people who didn’t listen to the narrative, is more akin to something you would see in Putin’s Russia, where any dissent is immediately stamped out by the police.
Do I agree with the Rovers fans, or Jedward, or the mad professor in America, or the woman who runs an obscure chipper?
No, far from it. Many of us, regardless of our political persuasion, think these comments were either massively ill-informed or just downright mean. But being ill-informed or being mean should not be a criminal matter, as so many anti-royalist protesters in the UK have found.
In fact, a good argument could be made that the police have already betrayed Elizabeth’s keepsakes – after all, this is a country where they still pretend that freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly and the right to protest are sacred.
The whole point of freedom is that you can say whatever you want to people you don’t like, and then you can contradict their argument. Good ideas always beat bad ones, and in the past few days we’ve seen a number of bad ideas that are easy to deconstruct.
Otherwise we would only allow the expression of views with which we agree.
And where’s the fun in that?
On a personal level I don’t mourn the Queen, she wasn’t my sovereign and I really don’t know what I would think of the royal family if I was born in the UK.
But the grief felt by so many millions of her subjects is real and unadulterated, and interestingly, it actually seems deeper and more honest than the performative weeping and wailing that occurred after Diana’s death. But arresting some weirdos surely betray their memory?
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/queen-elizabeths-death-is-sad-for-many-but-those-who-express-ill-timed-anti-royalist-sentiment-should-not-be-arrested-41987254.html Queen Elizabeth’s death is sad for many – but those who express untimely anti-royalist sentiment should not be arrested