In an age of cynicism, climate breakdown and Waitrose ‘essential’ low-fat guacamole, words such as ‘duty’ can often appear anachronistic. Or at least best left to Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
But watching King Charles solemnly walk behind his mother’s coffin, after nearly a week of non-stop activity involving a tour of the devolved nations and countless unseen obligations, it is hard not to respect the effort.
When the rest of us would be grieving, he and other royals are working. It is what we ask of them and so they do it. Sometimes to a fault. Those images of Princes William and Harry, aged 15 and 12 respectively, walking head bowed behind their mother’s coffin, remain harrowing to this day. William, reflecting on it many years later, called it “a very long and lonely walk.”
And I think this – the tension between duty to one’s family, oneself and the country – puts that viral video of the King getting annoyed about a malfunctioning pen into perspective.
I mean, when my computer decides (always without warning) it simply cannot go on without restarting, or my newsletter template chooses to reformat every hyperlink at 3.55pm, my reaction is far less measured than that of the King who, let’s not forget, is grieving the loss of his mother and presumably operating on not much sleep. I think it is on this occasion our duty to cut him some slack.
To that end, in the last few hours, the Queen’s coffin left Buckingham Palace for the final time as the royal family accompanied their matriarch on foot on the journey to the Palace of Westminster. And a few minutes ago, it arrived in Westminster Hall, where Elizabeth II will lie in state until 6.30am on Monday, the day of the funeral. The pictures really are quite something.
In the comment pages, Melanie McDonagh draws some fascinating parallels between Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II, in life and in death.
Business Editor Jonathan Prynn reflects on London’s middle-class stampede to Aldi and Lidl. While Homes and Property Editor Prudence Ivey says it’s no surprise people aren’t rushing back into long, expensive commutes to the office.
And finally, check out how the Evening Standard last reported the death of the monarch. The front page of an early edition was headlined “The King is dead” but also included some other stories, including a 60mph police chase of a stolen car taken by three teenagers, a tram breakdown between Abbey Wood and Plumstead and news of a 48-year-old colonel collapsing and dying in a Piccadilly bar.
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