There is a very revealing scene in the recently released Diana documentary, The Princess. It’s after Diana died and the British public left themselves in a terrible state.
You will recall turning against the Queen in their collective grief for not returning to London from Scotland in reasonable haste and for not addressing her quickly enough in some sort of public display of sentiment.
Eventually, under terrible pressure from the public and the media, the royals relented. So we see the Queen and Philip outside the palace examining the piles of flowers left for Diana.
Diana’s sons are also paraded in front of the crowd.
These crowds have taken the guise of medieval peasants by this point, and seem desperate to reach out to these two shocked children who have just lost their mother, as if touching them would be a rubbing of the relic. It’s disturbing to look back on now.
Then we see a woman from the crowd reach out to the queen and tell her to “take care of the two boys.” Prince Philip, who stands behind the Queen, can’t help it. “That’s exactly what we did,” he says. That “…before you and the barking mob brought us here to parade us and her for you, you stupid woman.” was quiet.
It was, as we now see, a groundbreaking moment. Prince Philip didn’t understand that taking care of the boys was no longer enough. Prince Philip, who failed to understand the new age that was being born before his eyes, the age of performative emotions, of signs of virtue, in which being seen doing things became more important than actually doing them.
Looking back on those times today, it’s hard to believe how the royals turned things around. The pundits’ talk in Diana’s entourage was that the royals were finished. Also, looking at the footage from back then, it’s impossible to believe that Camilla could ever be queen.
But the Royals and Queen played the long game. The Queen’s stoicism at the time about not coming back to London right away was characteristic of her whole approach of sitting back and letting things take their course, never over revealing, over-explaining or over-reacting, sitting above the everyday ups and downs Downs, don’t run at everything with the mob.
She was above the fads and fads of the day. And one’s feelings were put aside in favor of duty.
Something has changed in Charles in the last few days. He suddenly looks and feels like royalty. And they seem to accept him. But without Elizabeth, you feel sorry for them.
In recent years, she sometimes seemed like the only adult in the room. The vagaries of politics, prime ministers and Brexits come and go, but she was always there, a living symbol of Britain’s long-awaited greatness.
Even all of us, growing up largely nationalists and with a healthy contempt for the British establishment, knew that she was the best of them – that she had qualities that no one else in her ruling class displayed.
God bless you. And may God help them.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/there-has-been-a-subtle-shift-in-charles-he-seems-more-king-like-still-youd-be-sorry-for-them-without-elizabeth-41979535.html There was a subtle change in Charles, he seems more like a king. Still, you would feel sorry for them without Elizabeth