by Will Lloyd
Wednesday, 14
September 2022
Dispatch
17:45

England’s middle classes say goodbye to the Queen

They thought she would last forever
by Will Lloyd
Credit: Getty

The Mall

Half an Encyclopaedia Britannica could be filled with prophecies of the Monarchy’s demise. Here is Virginia Woolf in the Thirties, after the abdication crisis. “Royalty” she writes, “is no longer quite Royal”. The flying buttresses of a “great Victorian dream” had been removed. The cathedral was sinking.


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Today we had the full Westminster Abbey, with buttresses solid, and a hundred guardsmen banging their drums in the sun. Along the Mall was a polite and patriotic scene of lower-middle class England. Little old ladies from Peterborough, painters and decorators from Dagenham, sisters from Billericay, a retired accountant from Tunbridge Wells. They have packed sandwiches, and toddlers. “We expected her to go on forever”, said Wendy, as her sister Susan and husband Kevin nodded. “Forever and ever.”

Forever is carried from the gates of Buckingham Palace on a flag-draped gun carriage, scattered with white roses and white dahlias, topped with a crown fit to rule an Empire that no longer exists.

They all say they want to be part of it today. What exactly is it? “I don’t know what it is”, says Georgia, who is 25, and easily the youngest person here who is not asleep in a pram. “I think it is just what we do.” It is variously described to me as being British and being proud of being British; it is tradition and continuity; it is where they will take their children when it happens again. “It”, says Graham from Dagenham, “is the end of an era.”

The absurdity of recent days — a sleepless, red-eyed Huw Edwards on telly last night musing about whether “the Queen foresaw her own end” — melts away as the procession begins. The pigeon-scattering cannon boom in Hyde Park, the deep drumming, the cascading brass — it reduces a man in a three piece suit to tears. It silences thousands. It makes you forget briefly that we are long past our apogee, staring down at a winter where the state threatens to break as badly as it did in 1979.

Today everything works. Charles in his air marshal uniform, a man who has become an adjective, his face appropriately solemn. Even Harry, press-ganged back here from his LA podcast studio, looks fitting. (We shall pass over the Duke of York without mention.) Authority has allowed only the tiniest lines of human foliage to grow along the mourning route. The family march past us in lockstep with the drums, towards gothic Whitehall, the Cenotaph, and Churchill wary on his plinth, then disappear in a haze of red wool.

Woolf believed we would find something on the other side of the monarchy. Something more wondrous. “This unknown world,” she argued, “is after all more beautiful than Buckingham Palace.” Not today.

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Matt M
Matt M
2 months ago

“It makes you forget briefly that we are long past our apogee, staring down at a winter where the state threatens to break as badly as it did in 1979.”

Give it a rest! Unemployment is at a record low, inflation is falling, there is a cap on domestic and business energy bills, we produce 50% of our own gas and have long term contracts in place with Norway and Qatar. We won’t have blackouts. There’ll be no riots.

We have transitioned PM and monarch in one week without a shot fired or even a raised voice.

We’re not so far from our apogee either. We are still the 5th richest country in the world. And ask the Russians what they think of the Ukrainian troops we have trained in England and armed with weapons and intelligence. We are a long way from finished.

The despair and declinism is only in the minds of Virginia Wolfe types. Types best avoided if you ask me.

Last edited 2 months ago by Matt M
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Absolutely, we are “on a roll”. We maybe the fifth richest country terms of mammon but are indisputably first in terms of culture.
We now may even have a true Tory Prime Minister in the making, and the opportunity to jettison all this Green nonsense, which we can ill afford.
Unemployment as you say is almost non existent, and fortuitously, given the current state of the Army, there will be no riots.
Technically you are incorrect in saying “without a shot fired”, but we can’t have everything.
Looking to the future, now that Her Majesty has left us might this not be an ideal opportunity to rid ourselves of Scotland or Alba as ‘they’ call it and perhaps dispose of the Commonwealth at the same time? Neither provide any financial or cultural benefit, and only a misplaced sense of nostalgia can justify the retention of either of them.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 months ago

The people of Scotland voted comprehensively to remain in the ‘Union’ in the 2014 Referendum
A referendum I would remind you that was put in place by the UK Govt.
Why would you want to be rid of Scotland when it is clear that Sturgeon and the SNP are clearly on the way out?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

That’s very good to hear.
However ‘urban rumour’ has it that the ‘independence vote’ has grown considerably since 2014. Is that not the case?

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

The “urban rumour” part might be correct. The rest is not.
Salmond and Sturgeon both voluntarily stated that the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation”. I assume that would mean a new generation of politicians.
There will be no referendum next year. Nor in this Parliament.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Most interesting, thank you.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 months ago

Whoa, Nelly.
This all went wrong when Cameron saw an opinion poll with a clear lead for Yes pre-referendum in an opinion poll. London-led political panic ensued, much to the delight of Scots on both sides of the debate. In my experience, most Scots don’t hate the English, but yes a majority do dislike control from London. Opinion polls are an absolute gift.
Were I a Scot, I would ALWAYS say that I favoured independence. Just to wind up the English. However should it come to an actual vote, I would be considering how my pension would convert, and the economy perform, assuming SNP remain in charge.
All that said…I wish Scotland every success, wherever the chips may fall; and who knows what opportunities a coalition might bring. Because if they do separate I feel they will be smart enough to dump the grinding negativity of the nationalists very quickly. The country has more potential for sure, but IMHO they need to have the courage to reject Nationalism and demonstrate the self-confidence of an autonomous nation within the Union first. Whilst they still are allowed a vote.
Right now I do not see a Slovakia-style “gentle revolution” due to the current antagonism between SNP & HMG. And even if Indy vote = Yes, the SNP will never agree to leave without the English agreeing to their every financial demand, whether reasonable or unreasonable. It’s going to be Brexit in reverse.
I mean, can you honestly see Sturgeon and co, scrambling round for EU scraps with Slovenia, Lithuania and others of similar size? They are nationalists to the core, on the gravy train of a lifetime, who will always need a scapegoat.

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago

Do you think it might be this attitude towards long standing relationships with others as merely nostalgia that might contribute toward the alienation that’s so endemic throughout the world today, that such relationships are meaningless?

Last edited 2 months ago by Brett H
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Brett H

Haven’t you missed out a word?

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago

Enlighten me.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Brett H

“Do you think it might be this attitude towards long standing relationships with others as nostalgia”
Something odd with the syntax here! What is the missing word?

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago

Yes the syntax is not great. “Merely nostalgia” would be better.

Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
2 months ago

I totally agree that we should jettison the Commonwealth. It is just a talking shop. I hope the sense of connecting to the atavistic can continue beyond Monday’s funeral. The middle classes attending it may not admit that they are displaying visceral ethnic feeling but they are.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Selling Northern Ireland and Scotland to Canada is the answer, and will ensure that they both forever wallow in inert protestant failure!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

What an original and splendid idea!
“Two birds with one stone” as they say.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

But you must agree the ‘royal funeral’ is out of all proportion?
An extravaganza that would surely only befit a great Empire?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

“Out of all proportion”, certainly in terms of the same old boring, slightly kitsch, pseudo medieval pantomime, designed for the Home Counties.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

But sterling efforts and performance from The Household Division, to be fair to them…. When Biden arrives he will wonder how our Life Guards rescue flailing swimmers from sea an pool wearing those boots and metal curaisses and helmets?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

Yes the Household Division did splendidly, as was to be expected.
Why on earth the RAF ( the recent desecrators of ‘War Hero’, Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, DSO etc dog’s grave at RAF Scampton) were allowed to participate is beyond me. To add insult to injury they used a large American built plane that recently gained notoriety in Kabul as the ‘ launch platform’ for numerous ‘free fall’ Afghans seeking to escape the country. Not a good report.
Incidentally when the late Corporal Major Denis Hutchins, of The Life Guards was first recruited into the Regiment in 1960, he initially demurred on the grounds that he couldn’t swim!
You may recall that Hutchins spent his last years tormented by the vexatious prosecutions of the Northern Ireland Crown Prosecution Service, eventually, at the age of 81 being dragged to Belfast at the height of the recent SCAMDEMIC , and subsequently dying of C-19 in the Mater (enemy) Hospital Belfast. R.I.P.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago

Yes the Household Division performed magnificently as was to be expected on such an occasion.
Full reply CENSORED yet again I’m afraid!

Last edited 2 months ago by stanhopecharles344
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Today we had Westminster Hall, not Westminster Abbey, Will.
Tomorrow, Will will be along with another set of cliche-ridden waste of Unherd space.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago

“Charles, a man who has become an adjective.”

What does it mean?

Mr Veen
Mr Veen
2 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

I suppose it means we have entered the Carolean era, having left the second Elizabethan era.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Veen

Ah… 😉

Vivek Rajkhowa
Vivek Rajkhowa
2 months ago

Monarchy will last beyond petty idiocy like democracy, people believe in monarchy. Have done for millennia.

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago
Reply to  Vivek Rajkhowa

people believe in monarchy.”
Thats the tricky part. They can’t turn away.

Christian Moon
Christian Moon
2 months ago

What an excellent example of the Orwellian intellectual take. If we are not masters of the universe then let us not humiliate ourselves by anything that might suggest we don’t understand this.
Back in the real world, who gives a toss? We are who we are, no more and no less. Nobody cares what Jonny foreigner thinks – and why should we?

Matt Beresford
Matt Beresford
2 months ago

Middle Classes? Are you sure?

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Beresford

Actually it was apparently “… lower-middle class England.” with their sandwiches. Did he see this or his he making up something to prove a point? But what is it.
I realise things are rushed in such events, but I really would like to see something intelligent and insightful written about what is happening.

Last edited 2 months ago by Brett H
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 months ago
Reply to  Brett H

Anh…..H…….put out the night tray…. good…and make sure you whiten my Hunting boot garter straps.. thats all… you may go now….

(Thank you N S-T.)

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

” Roger that- wait out” !!!

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  Brett H

I think he made up other things too – Georgia, who is 25, and easily the youngest person here who is not asleep in a pram.
A cursory glance at those filing past the catafalque revealed many faces that were in their twenties and sometimes teens (unless they are using an extremely good moisturiser, in which case I want to know what it is). This was Will Lloyd pushing his own view that no young people support a constitutional monarchy; whilst it is certainly less popular among the young many do support the system, especially those who have not been to university.

Jane Hewland
Jane Hewland
2 months ago

You get an up vote from me just for the moisturiser comment.

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 months ago
Reply to  Brett H

The funeral is not proportionate … it’s an extravaganza that would have been more dignified if it had been more modest?

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago

I see. Though we haven’t had the funeral yet and I imagine you’ll think it even more undignified.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

The funeral hasn’t actually happened yet, so I’m amazed you can pass judgement on it already (you did use the past tense).
Absolutely certain you would lose a popular vote with this opinion in any case.
Also not a fan of people who pose leading questions to imply everyone else must agree with them (your earlier comment).

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago

How can you have a modest state funeral? The more pomp and circumstance the better, as far as I’m concerned. This is the laying to rest of a monarch, who was repected, and even loved, by a large proportion of the population; she was not a grey suited bureaucrat. Regardless of what may happen to the monarchy in the future (I personally would want it to remain much in the same condition, a few fewer hangers-on whould be an improvement, though) let’s pull out the stops and go for it.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

We might also consider these events (and I don’t mean to trivialise or commercialise a funeral in saying this) as advertising for the country. Would we want to appear cheap and low quality ? The world is expecting a large scale event. Why should we let our standards drop ?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago

(We shall pass over the Duke of York without mention.)
… and yet you did mention him.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 months ago

The family marched in step, not lockstep, which is a horrible Americanism.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

I watch the Daily Mailoid /Palace PR machine’s creation of The new Princess of Wales as a non speaking hybrid cross between mother teresa and ” Ms Perfectionita Heome – Ceounties” with morbid and macabre fascination, as the battle against the abominable Sussex Satanistas plays out like some scarcely credible low rent late night American soap….

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 months ago

What’s the point of this piece?

dj Stach
dj Stach
2 months ago

Truly a historical event in Britain’s history and age-old traditions: queing up to 10 miles. Respect!

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 months ago

The world moves on and Will Lloyd regrets missing the days of (his) yore?

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
2 months ago

I give it three months at which point the collapse will be obvious to everyone. She held the country together and now the pretentious fools will tear it down, claiming to replace it with something better: yes chaos and confusion about the fabric of society as they are bringing to their own bodies. Sad to be this age and see this age slide away into infinity and beyond

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
2 months ago

Our late Monarch did a fine job but the funeral in full swing is I would suggest not at all proportionate?

Brett H
Brett H
2 months ago

In what sense?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

This American, watching the proceedings from afar, wondered yesterday what the proceedings would be if Charles died after a short stint in office. I have long admired Queen Elizabeth, and, though I do not wish genuine or constitutional monarchy for our country (too often, lately, our presidents have acted as if they ruled rather than presided), I enjoy all the trappings the UK employs to support and employ the royals. The United Republic (formerly Kingdom) would lose much of its interest to me without the monarchy, and, given the grace and tireless energy of Elizabeth and her fellow royals, would, it seems to me, lose much of its unity and cohesion without a monarch and family for all to focus on and celebrate. In contrast, when Mr. Biden shows up for a ceremonial occasion, he, his entourage and the media don’t avoid milking it for politics. God save the King – for the Kingdom.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 months ago

You kep repeating the same comment!