YOU can’t escape the thought that the Queen would have detested this festival of fake grief. Four days have elapsed since her death last Thursday, but what ought to have been a solemn period of reflection in keeping with the dignity and restraint she seemed to exude during her life has rapidly turned into a masquerade of cloying sentimentality.

Some of this may be dismissed merely as that curious fetish of the Facebook and Tic Tok age which requires us to emote extravagantly in public for people we hardly knew and events that don’t really concern us. It’s a little absurd, for instance, to contrive supercilious fury at an elderly gent in a red plastic guardsman’s uniform and a bearskin hat made out of Christmas tree tinsel stooping to lay flowers and then belting out the national anthem in a none-too-terrible baritone. God love him.

Ordinary English people have always exulted in such glorious eccentricities. It’s part of their charm. And besides, there really are a great many of them who felt connected to Elizabeth and who genuinely believe their country is diminished by her death.

Much more of it though, is rooted in something that’s been orchestrated by malevolent forces rarely glimpsed. These stand to benefit from ancient ceremonials signifying power and class superiority. They promote deference and the imperative to know your place mainly because they are invested in maintaining these.

Your response at the state of a national television broadcaster who self-identifies as a ‘journalist’ filming himself laying flowers before posting it to his followers on social media is probably best left unsaid. Similarly, all those newspapers who boasted about their own heroic deeds in putting together supplements so large and heavy that they could have held up a grand piano. This wasn’t journalism and little of it was about grief.

Worst of all has been the BBC whose journalists and presenters all seemed to have been providing their commentaries on their knees. With a few exceptions their coverage has been an asinine, superlative-laden stream of obsequiousness that insults the intelligence of their audience.

Those of us who quietly admired the way the Queen went about her business, even as we reviled the hereditary principle of monarchy, have been here before. And so had Elizabeth.

In the summer of 1997 the entire UK, it seemed, had taken leave of its collective sensibilities following the death of Princess Diana. Then, as now, there was space to mourn the untimely passing of a young mother in tragic circumstances even though we may have recoiled at the inherited accoutrements of her gilded life. Within days of her death though, it seemed that the UK had been gripped by an increasingly malevolent form of mass hysteria.

Not content with weeping and gnashing their teeth, firing-squads of condolence-vigilantes roamed the land searching out those wretched curs deemed guilty of being insufficiently sorrowful. For a few days the Queen herself stood accused of the new mortal sin: failure to show emotion in public. Eventually, the sackcloth and ashes mob, goaded by the right-wing press, succeeded in dragging her back from Balmoral to show her broken people that she cared.

Concerned about sparing her grandchildren public exposure to this grotesque distortion of grief, her instincts would have tended to something more private and dignified. This, you felt, would have been something more in keeping with the widely perceived British national temper: caution, restraint, moderation, seemliness. Instead, she was forced to abandon these to satisfy an orchestrated lust: not to mourn, but to self-medicate.

I’m not sure that the Queen would have approved of the cancellation of the entire UK football calendar this weekend while the well-behaved and better-dressed sports all proceeded as normal. There’s speculation that this arose from a fear that certain groups of football supporters might not sufficiently have bent the knee by failing to observe a minute’s silence.

Yet, the prospect of this would surely have injured her less than the psychological bullying to which she was subject by the right-wing press and Tony Blair’s boutique government of performance artists in 1997.

The BBC’s vomit-inducing coverage thus far is akin to something you might have expected in North Korea. The rush to identify and then condemn dissenters has been about forcing conformity on the nation. There’s something totalitarian about it.

And while working people are chivvied into cancelling their plans and curtailing their social engagements the wheels of capitalism keep turning. The CEOs will join their political retainers during the ceremonials this week and next but the machinery with which they make their profits stops for no one, not even the death of their Queen. Cancellations and suspension of activities is only for the little people.

A picture of the Queen sitting alone in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle last April at the funeral of Prince Philip provides a poignant metaphor portraying the hysterics of the last few days. The Covid rules dictated that she sat apart from her family while grieving her husband of 73 years. Philip himself had reportedly requested that “no fuss” be made about his death in the funeral arrangements. And after a short period of private mourning the Queen resumed her duties.

Later it emerged that the men and women who formed her own government had turned Downing Street into a year-long party-venue which threatened their own health and thus the entire process of government. It was profoundly disrespectful to their monarch and scornful of the sacrifices of ordinary citizens.

This week, the new chosen leader of that administration will accompany Charles III on a mini-tour of his new kingdom. There’s no need for Liz Truss to accompany him and I suppose we’ll never know if this came about as a result of political manipulation of a man still coming to terms with his new responsibilities.

Politicising his reign at its outset seems to be just another stunt calculated to exploit the Queen’s death as a political opportunity. This is only the beginning of it.

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