This week a 96 year old woman in the UK died. She was a ‘loving grandma, great grandma, great-great-grandma and a dear mother in law’. Olive Bower was one of over 12,000 people who died this week in the UK. Each one of them, probably, precious to someone.
But she wasn’t ‘the queen’. What is a queen? We know a few things: she isn’t voted in; she has power; is normally rich; is normally in a family line descended from some particularly successful and violent people who, a few hundred years ago, chopped, maimed and poisoned their way into a position of power based on land theft, military might and sneaky politicking. Or it is a woman who marries into such a family.
As I realise just what a hegemony the BBC has over the radio airwaves in the UK and frantically tune in to radio stations around the world via the Radio Garden app in order to hear about what else might be happening; as I drive into the town centre and see the billboards mysteriously and quite wondrously transformed into sinister representations of a dead woman; as I read about a pop music award ceremony being cancelled in ‘respect’ of the death of Elizabeth Windsor (her near ancestors, like me, took the name of a beloved place to transform their surname from something German sounding)… I wonder also about Violet Anne, a ‘very fine woman’ who had ‘more energy than most of these youngsters’, matriarch of another successful, violent family.
Famously, Vi’s ‘lovely boys’ never ‘harmed the public’, although it could be said they ruined a few nights out. Can we say the same about the Windsors? Liz, like Ronnie, famously wielded a sword, to less blood thirsty effect. And I suppose you could argue Liz & co didn’t have to get the blood of anything more human than (name an animal) whatever they shot on numerous hunting expeditions from Norfolk to Uganda on their immaculate safari jackets. Because they had people to do that for them. Still do.
The army, the police, MPs, all pledge allegiance to the queen. Or, now I suppose, to that big-eared, red faced caricature of himself, King Chaz. But I don’t, not since leaving the boy scouts. And I don’t stand for the anthem, either. And I don’t wave the flag or have any more respect for any of them than I do for Olive. Or, come to think of it, for Violet Anne Kray.