On Friday, they queued for 13 hours before a six hour stop was introduced to control the five-mile column.
The dedicated queuers crossed through Westminster Bridge to continue along the Southbank to Vauxhall Bridge where they squeezed into a penultimate tortuous passage. ‘You have 2-3 hours before you reach the end,’ the security man cheerfully told them while bottles of water were handed out and they were searched. For those who had come from outside London, hotels were charging a £1000 a night.
The Queen was also the head of the Church of England, so to the casual observer, this initially felt like an act of penance from her devoted monarchical following.
By Sunday, The Guardian reported that the queuer’s resolve was ‘subdued optimism’. Rob Johns, a political professor at the University of Essex, said it was more about the queue than queueing. These people enjoyed coming together in a queue. As a demographic, he added, they were not in the main Conservatives and 60% were Remainers.
I did however see grandmothers being held up by their grown kids in the heat of the late afternoon sun. They seemed delirious and if pushed any further, not too far off joining Her Majesty in a coffin.
Novara Media reported that in actual fact, there were no more than about 30,000 spread in twos and threes over the queue’s length from Southwark Park to the House of Commons’ Westminster Hall, where the Queen lay-in-state.
Personally, I became increasingly exasperated on my way out of Westminster as the media and extra security had blocked off the exits and shortcuts, so all I could do was push through the crowd waves.
At last past Parliament Square, from a large wooden tiered structure built opposite Westminster Abbey, and completely covering the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, telephoto lenses were already aimed at Westminster Abbey’s entrance, ahead of Monday’s Royal buriel. In white privileged marquee tents, the media circus had long since closed-in on the key points along the route.
The end of an era ends in a pageant dedicated to a diminishing sense of the Nation’s self before it freefalls into recession. From the relative prosperity and the wasted opportunity that had been the postwar settlement – reality will hit this winter. And if British workers want their pay to reflect interest rate rises, they have a fight on their hands.
The Bank of England has used the monarch’s demise, to release itself from any financial decisions over a ten day period until Thursday next.
Owen Jones, the YouTuber and Guardian columnist, has also commentated that the bank holiday discriminates against millions of low-paid workers, especially those in precarious employment, who can’t afford losing pay over what is in effect an unscheduled day off.
With these issues to the fore among the living, whatever the deceased Queen’s seventy years of service ultimately represents, the establishment she headed, can best be described as allowing, indulgent and liberal, but at worst, entitled, uncaring and neoliberal.
The ascession of King Charles III is crowned by all that Queen Elizabeth’s reign did not put right. The profligacy and callousness of its imperial and colonial legacy.