We are seeing today the culmination of Operation London Bridge, the plan devised years ago, with significant participation from Queen Elizabeth II herself, to mark the end of her life and reign. This is what the British royal family and England do best – ceremony and tradition, all displayed with military precision. An overwhelming majority of the people watching today have never witnessed the funeral of a British monarch.
This is the big show. The cavalry, the guards, the music, the pomp and pageantry, hundreds of people including the royals themselves marching in unison down the Mall – it’s an impressive sight, maybe even an intimidating sight. This is of course the ultimate tribute to a person of historical significance but it’s also the ultimate flex of power, which is also meant to support Her Majesty’s heir, King Charles III and his heirs, both of whom are sharing the spotlight today as William, Prince of Wales and his son, Prince George, attended the funeral together with Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte.
Last week there was footage of the procession rehearsal, with those involved in today’s event practising their formation. I wonder about the private processional rehearsals, especially for the grandchildren’s vigil that happened on Saturday.
That can’t have been the first time they did that, especially not with those audio cues signaling when to move and when to stop, and the steps down the stairs at the beginning, and how they split up to get in position around the Queen’s coffin. And all while mourners filed past to pay their respects. They wouldn’t have taken any chances with the eyes of the world on them. These are the scenes behind the scenes that we haven’t been able to observe – and I’ll wonder if we’ll ever know those details.
Today’s spectacle will for sure be boost for the Firm. And of course it is the Firm’s hope that King Charles can ride that momentum through the early days of his monarchy, perhaps the most valuable inheritance his mother could have passed down to him: her popularity. He has to borrow that now to ensure that her greatest wish will be fulfilled: for the Crown to endure through tremendous social upheaval, as the world changes at an unprecedented pace. How will an institution infamous for its resistance to change manage after a change in sovereignty?
Yours in gossip,