This was written as a letter to my email subscribers, sent Saturday 10 September 2022.
I’m discombobulated. I’m a muddle of emotions and thoughts, and that's okay. And, as I suspect some of you will be feeling the same way I thought I’d write about it. (Writing helps me process, hence my love of journalling.)
The source of my discombobulation? The Queen dying on Thursday.
I’m not a royalist and I’m not anti-royal, it’s really only when something of significance happens that they catch my attention. I like royal weddings because, well, I like weddings. Jubilees provide a reason for neighbours to have a shindig and I’m all for communities coming together. And, when they abuse their power and privilege (I'm looking at you, Andrew) it makes me angry and nauseated.
The Queen has always been there. I’ve taken it for granted that she’s on the coins and notes in my purse, she’s on the stamps I stick to envelopes and her name is on the jar of Colman’s mustard in my fridge – ‘By appointment to Her Majesty the Queen’. (The 600+ royal warrants she issues die with her, apparently.)
I didn’t grow up watching the Queen’s Christmas speech because we were eating our turkey dinner when she was on TV. I haven’t given her much thought because I haven’t had to.
But I’m well aware how problematic the monarchy is for many. There’s no denying that throughout history great harm has been done to many people in the name of the monarchy, of which the Queen was, and now the King is, the head. (I’ve noticed I’ve always referred to the Queen as just that, and saying the King, or King Charles, feels very weird because Kings are historical figures in my head – another thread of the discombobulation.)
Scrolling through social media I see lots of posts with lots of opinions and thoughts about the Queen and the monarchy. And I don’t know what to add because I don’t have just one thought or opinion. It feels nuanced and complex and there are too many perspectives to sum up in a pithy post.
Random thoughts pop into my head like how odd it will be when I hear God save the King sung. Or when I open a book of stamps and see King Charles looking back at me. How sad it is for a family to lose their mum, their grandma and their great-grandma, as it is for anyone who loses someone beloved to them. (Witnessing grief can trigger your own feelings of loss so if this is happening for you take lots of extra care.)
Whatever your opinion of or feelings about the Queen I don’t think anyone will be immune to that off-kilter feeling her absence elicits. Because unless you’re into your 70s she’s always been there, whether you thought about her much or not.
You may not pay much attention to a house on the corner of your street that’s been there longer than you can remember but if one day it vanished you’d notice. The look and feel of the street is altered. Yes, another building is taking its place but it’s different and while you’ll probably get used it over time for the moment it feels odd.
So while I may not have any great pearls of wisdom I thought I’d share my thoughts and feelings as I process them in case it’s useful for you too. Because whatever you're thinking and feeling, it's okay. They're valid and allowed so go gently on yourself, and each other.
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