Searching for Meaning in the 5-Mile Queue:

Like so many Americans, I was glued to the television all week mesmerized by pageantry of Queen’s ten-day funeral ceremony. Millions watched her family and formal guards solemnly marching through the streets behind a flag-draped coffin on the Queen Victoria’s gun carriage. There is no equivalent in America.

Equally impressive is the outpouring of love for the Queen and the monarchy as expressed by a nearly five-mile queue currently snaking through London. People are waiting their turn to pay their respects to the Queen, who is lying in state in Buckingham Palace. Four billion people world-wide are expected to watch her funeral on Monday.

Why are so many people in London waiting to pay tribute to the dead Queen? Why are billions tuning into the funeral on Monday? The world-wide grieving for Queen Elizabeth is the most important political event of the year, and surpasses her appeal as an “every-granny” or the family’s silly dramas. Yes, people appreciate her selfless service. I wrote about my own appreciation of her leadership style last week, just hours before the official death notice. But the main message behind all these tributes is that traditions matter, history matters. That queue is a silent rebuke against modern forces that highlight the problems of the past without respect for the good.

Read more at Apt. 11D, the newsletter

A few years ago, I developed an unusual interest in the British Royal Family. From time to time, I do a brain-dump and write blog posts about them. For the whole series of blog posts about the Royal Family, tag: royal mess. To start from the beginning, start here.

5 thoughts on “Searching for Meaning in the 5-Mile Queue:

  1. I lived in DC back in 2004 when Reagan died. I was never a fan of Reagan, to put it very mildly; but I walked down to watch the funeral cortege. I think the streets were closed, and anyway parking in D.C. is no picnic state funeral or not. It was a schlep for me (took an hour or so to get there, I think, and then I took my time coming back), on what I remember as a warm day, and I was by myself, so it wasn’t something I did for someone else or to bond with someone else. It took the better part of a day, and I don’t think I talked to anyone at all.

    But it’s interesting to watch these kinds of historical events, to be a part of them in some way, so I did it. So I can imagine how much of a draw it would be to do this for someone you actually had some attachment to, respected, and/or had fond memories of.


  2. I, my mom, and sisters woke up very early to watch Princess Di’s wedding. My mom, in particular was a wedding fan, and I like them, too. It did feel like a party for us, and watching on television was a memorable event.

    I did not watch Princess Di’s funeral and I will not Queen Elizabeth’s. I really want to see news from around the world for Elizabeth’s funeral. The prediction that half the world’s population will watch it seems big, but it would be very interesting to see a shared event of that size. I think the previous (estimated) record is the Atlanta Olympics opening ceremonies, at 3.6 billion. But will the Chinese watch the funeral?


  3. The funeral is being screened on prime time TV here in NZ (we’re 12 hours ahead of Britain – so their 11 am is our 11 pm).
    [NB: our TV service is rather different to the US one – we have no such thing as cable; but instead have broadcast channels, which are now being overtaken in popularity by aggregators like Netflix, Disney+. But TV1 is still the chief broadcaster of news to a significant chunk of the population]

    I’d expect that, given the timing, a fair chunk of NZ households will be watching (I’ll give actual figures – if we get them, tomorrow). If it had been on during the working day, there would have been fewer – simply because of the logistics. Our ‘day off’ comes next Monday (go figure!)

    I’ll be watching – simply for the pageantry of the event. I don’t have (or feel) a close connection with QE2 – though I think she was an admirable old bird.

    My brother, in London, is even more apolitical about it all. I’ve tried to get him to take some pictures of the crowds queuing and the lights on Tower Bridge, etc – for my Mum, who really is interested (there’s no chance that he’d be queuing to walk past the coffin) – but he’s firmly resisting, so far.

    Is anyone else reminded of the Soviet state funerals – where people queued for hours (in the snow) to walk past? [Though, hopefully, no one will be crushed to death in the crowd, as they were at Stalin’s funeral]


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