In a social sense I’m quite fascinated why so many people are queuing, and for so long. The majority of people who have paid their respects, are paying their respects and will pay their respects during the lying in state are doing so because they respect the Queen and are sad she has passed and wish to show their respect to her, to give something back to her, no matter how tiny.
The gruelling multi hour slow walk to Westminster Hall harks back to religious pilgrimages of old, where a pilgrim would walk for days and days to pay respects to a saint, to a church, to a god. I’m not suggesting those paying respect here are religious, far from it, but the mindset sits within the same area as pilgrims of old.
Another large group of those paying respects are doing so because of the sense of history. They want to be able to say ‘I was there’ or ‘I queued for seven hours to walk past the Queen’s coffin.’ Something they will tell their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren perhaps. This is usually the most common logic of crowds when it comes down to mass public events.
It’s why hundreds of thousands of people always turn out for the Giants parades in Liverpool, it’s why thousands of people turn up to support a sports team when they return victorious on a parade through a city on an open bus tour. It’s human nature to want to be a part of something. To be able to say ‘I was there’.
Is everyone paying respect a royalist? A fan of monarchy? A huge amount are. But I’d suggest a large minority of people aren’t. They respect the Queen, but having respect for an individual doesn’t always mean you respect the structure they sit on top of. Does this show of respect mean the nation of the UK are fans of the institution of the monarchy? Probably not.
As with any death the respectful thing to do is to quell one’s usual anger or disagreement about matters of dispute. It’s just not the right time, an oft heard expression this past week. But those voices are there.
Earlier this year around 27% of people polled said we should abolish the monarchy as an institution, around 60% – thought we should keep the monarchy. A poll last week had those who thought the new King Charles III would not make a good king down at 15%. But this is a time you perhaps hold back on those views, because, you know, someone’s died and ‘it’s not the right time’.
The institution of monarchy will hope that the ceremony and public show of affection to the Queen will bring foundation to the future of that old institution.
Some might suggest this is actually a final bow of the head to that institution and it may be difficult to secure new foundation on the old passing foundations. Time will tell. The monarchy and those 27% (in normal times) not in favour of the monarchy, will see this moment as a reset. How that reset restarts we will just have to wait and see.
Anyway, I’m off to get my steps in for the day. How many steps can you do over nine hours for 4.5 miles?
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