With these words last night, Her Majesty the Queen has called time on the Snowflake generation. In the spring of 2020, the snow has melted. No longer will ageing hacks be able to slight a whole generation of Britons. This is the generation that is now shouldering so much of the burden of the present crisis. In shops and hospitals, and throughout the country, young people are showing themselves to be every bit as formidable as their forbears.
The Queen may have referenced wartime defiance with her closing words: “we will met again” — a nod to Vera Lynn. But this was not simple jingoism or nostalgia. She was pointing out how the quiet determination of traditional British values are being fully exemplified in the present generation of youngsters. OK, one of her grandchildren was off in California, taking a break and working on his brand. But all families have them. Harry is fast becoming the exception that proves the rule, and his contemporaries are made of stronger stuff.
Freddie Sayers has made the point on Lockdown TV that one of the ways in which this crisis may come to an end is with the fitter, younger people, including those who have had the virus and survived it, emerging from captivity and getting on with life, and with older people having to remain indoors. This may create two categories of people and introduce a dangerous divide into our society. But I am now more optimistic that this will not happen. The Queen is right that this crisis is turning us towards each other, re-kindling fellow feeling, giving us a richer sense of ourselves as a community. And the Queen in her role as mother of the nation remains the perfect symbolic embodiment of this spirit of fellow feeling.
The two words, “President Blair” — or perhaps “President Juncker” — have always been the best argument against an elected head of state. But it is more than that. The Queen held us together last night in a way that no other figure could. Our resolve was stiffened, and without any false naivety, she radiated a sense that, come what may, we as a nation would come through this time of trial.
As the political commentator Helen Thompson put it on Twitter: “The point of a monarchy is to remind us we collectively live in the seasons of time, and many years in the future people will still talk about what the Queen broadcast on Palm Sunday in this hour of crisis.”