Voices: It is entirely right for Prince George and Princess Charlotte to be part of the Queen’s funeral

·3-min read

There had been questions about whether Prince George and Princess Charlotte would attend the state funeral of their great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Aged nine and seven respectively, nobody was sure whether their parents, William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, would allow them to take part in proceedings, given their tender age. But now we see that George and Charlotte are, indeed, at the ceremony – and it feels completely fitting. They’re dressed appropriately, they’ve behaved impeccably – if I were William and Kate, right now I’d be feeling both proud and relieved.

Prince Louis (who is, at four, the couple’s youngest child) didn’t attend, but that feels right, too. His parents clearly felt that his age (and proven rambunctious personality) meant it was best he stay at home to remember his great-grandmother privately. Archie and Lilibet, the children of Prince Harry and Meghan, weren’t there either, no doubt because they are aged just three and one.

You might imagine that when it came to age, Louis was deemed to be the cut-off; he is the perfect example of any four-year-old, royal or not: bored immediately, fond of pulling faces, having absolutely no regard for pomp and ceremony and hushed silence. You only have to look at the way he (hilariously) covered his mother’s mouth and stuck his tongue out during the Queen’s platinum jubilee pageant in June to get an answer as to why it was thought best he wasn’t one of the official mourners.

I know all too well that if I had asked my own son, when he was four, to be reverent and reserved and perfectly behaved at a funeral, let alone one that the entire world was watching, he would have lasted approximately two minutes before sliding down off his pew and shouting about the spider he could see on the coffin.

My little boy is now six – a snapshot of where we might find Louis in two years – and I can tell him I’m on an important work call or sending an urgent email while working from home all I like; he will still wholeheartedly believe that I need to hear the song he’s recently learned about the continents. He looks at me with his big eyes open wide, trilling the word “Antarctica” operatically – and I melt.

So no, of course Louis shouldn’t have been taken to the funeral. He would have been cute, or funny – never intentionally disrespectful, because kids are only ever just being kids – but absolutely not appropriate to the occasion (bless him).

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But when it comes to George and Charlotte, who did join some 2,000 others in Westminster Abbey to celebrate their late great-grandmother’s memory, well – this remarkable event will be one that sticks with them for the rest of their lives. They seem perfectly equipped to cope with the austere ceremony of it, too; though as a parent of kids of similar ages, I do wonder what comes next.

My daughter was with me at her great-grandmother’s funeral a couple of years ago, when she was six, and she was fascinated. She asked a steady round of questions, ranging from where they were taking the coffin to what is involved when there’s a cremation. She stayed remarkably dry-eyed during the ceremony and wake, but the tears came later. And so did more questions.

For beyond the rum-pum-pum drumming, the sombre gun salutes and the mournful hymns lie a plethora of difficult conversations about what it means to lose someone; the intricacies of death. None of which should be avoided – grief is part of life, for all of us, and should be treated as such – but it will be very hard for the youngest royals to come to terms with their loss.

Perhaps it will be helpful for them to have witnessed first-hand how deeply the rest of the world is mourning their great-grandmother, too.