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[royalty] Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death … a must-read look at what happens when the Queen dies – the big picture and the odd details …

The next great rupture in Britain’s national life has, in fact, been planned to the minute. It involves matters of major public importance, will be paid for by us, and is definitely going to happen. According to the Office of National Statistics, a British woman who reaches the age of 91 – as the Queen will in April – has an average life expectancy of four years and three months. The Queen is approaching the end of her reign at a time of maximum disquiet about Britain’s place in the world, at a moment when internal political tensions are close to breaking her kingdom apart. Her death will also release its own destabilising forces: in the accession of Queen Camilla; in the optics of a new king who is already an old man; and in the future of the Commonwealth, an invention largely of her making. (The Queen’s title of “Head of the Commonwealth” is not hereditary.) Australia’s prime minister and leader of the opposition both want the country to become a republic.

Coping with the way these events fall is the next great challenge of the House of Windsor, the last European royal family to practise coronations and to persist – with the complicity of a willing public – in the magic of the whole enterprise. That is why the planning for the Queen’s death and its ceremonial aftermath is so extensive. Succession is part of the job. It is an opportunity for order to be affirmed. Queen Victoria had written down the contents of her coffin by 1875. The Queen Mother’s funeral was rehearsed for 22 years. Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, prepared a winter and a summer menu for his funeral lunch. London Bridge is the Queen’s exit plan. “It’s history,” as one of her courtiers said. It will be 10 days of sorrow and spectacle in which, rather like the dazzling mirror of the monarchy itself, we will revel in who we were and avoid the question of what we have become.

“There is no concession to modernity in this.”

This entry was posted on Friday, March 17th, 2017 at 1:15 pm and is filed under Royalty.

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