I got up at 6:45AM on Friday the 9th of September and read this message from Pete, dated 6:32AM
Very sad news about the Queen
I responded the way anyone would
He said to turn on the ABC, which I did. A rare thing for me to watch breakfast TV, because it’s usually utter drivel, but not this morning. I dealt with the news that you all know by now. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was dead.
Of course Her Majesty was mortal, and was going to die someday, and seeing as she was a fair few years older than me, probably before I did. But when something as permanent as Our Sovereign Lady ceases to be, everything seems to be chaos. Anything that can happen will, as they say, but I thought I would live a short enough life that I wouldn’t have to seee something like this. The whole underpinning of what I hold to be true and good in the world—the lawful transfer of power in government, pomp and circumstance, the idea that the head of state is above all the bullshit that accompanies politics in these shitholes in which we find ourselves trapped—went with the Queen.
“My God…”, I wrote. “I can’t believe it.”
A few days have passed and I am now believing it. Nonetheless, I was pretty depressed on Friday but that was just the shock. I had a few too many at Aunty Jack’s that night and, while I nearly always enjoy a few too many wherever I have them, when I got home some fourteen hours after first hearing the news, the shock had gone but the grief had ballooned out to the point where I waas writing drunk and not very coherent emails.
I wrote one to The Drunken Odyssey asking John King to acknowledge the death of Her Majesty and he very nicely did at the start of episode 540.
As C J Hall said, it still feels like I lost my grandma.
HM Charles III
What, then, to make of the new King? It has been said that he wants to rule, not just reign, but he can’t make arbitrary decisions on things without the consent of Parliament, like the first Charles tried to do, but he will pay a lot of attention to what the Parliament tries to do. We may see cases where Bills fail to get Royal Assent because they do things the King doesn’t like. He’s a keen conservationist and he believes strongly in good town planning and good architecture, so Bills which do both those things will get a much quicker assent or an assent with fewer requests for review.
At least, in England and the rest of the United Kingdom. In the Commonwealth he will have to deal with ‘interesting times’. The Australian republican movement will probably catch on again; New Zealand will take further steps to remove some of the older institutions—for example, changing the Crown Solicitor to the Director of Public Prosecutions—and as to Canda, who knows? So much for the good nations in the Commonwealth, what of the remaining ones? The Caribbean nations have become, or are agitating for becoming republics, including Barbados!. Barbados, for Christ’s sake. The most English of the West Indies has thrown the monarchy away. Well, fuck ’em. If they want an Indian president, they can have one. And in Africa, the populations will have ‘post colonialism’ to fall back on as an explanation of why they can’t get their sewers cleaned or protect their citizens from Islamic terrorism.
The Next Three Kings
So, let’s assume HM Charles III lives to be ninety-six. Imagine the world of 2044 to be an interesting one. Australia with forty million people, most of whom live in Melbourne. The UK, perhaps now changing its name to ‘The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ after the secession of Scotland in 2035, 290 years after what my Duolingo course in Scottish Gaelic calls ‘An Blàr Chùil Lodair’ but which we Anglophones call the Battle of Culloden. Welsh and Cornish are now spoken in Wales and Cornwall. The Isle of Thanet is now a tax haven. Canada has dallied with becoming a republic but looks south again to see how that would turn out. The remaining forty-three of the United States are ruled by a religious cult that still adheres to the remains of the US Constitution where convenient. The Sino-Indian war is in its fourth year, with no signs of either side either letting up or using nukes. Sri Lanka has been a silent, closed country since it abandoned electricity and the Internet. Barbados is run from Delhi.
But we have three stable Kings in a row now. Assuming an average mortality age of ninety-six for each of them, we will see King Wiliam V in 2044, and King George VII in 2078, and then his successor in 2107.
I should live so long.