God save your mad parade.
(Note: Contrary to custom, the freebie links are at the end.)
Funny, I’m actually susceptible to royal drama. I remember the scenes around Victoria’s death in PBS’ dramatization of The Forsyte Saga – the maid crying out, “it’s the Queen, mum, the poor old Queen – she’s dead!”; the archival footage of the cortege, and the infirm Old Soames tottering to his feet: “Don’t care to be seated when the Queen is passing.” I even felt a little blush of sentiment in Frears’ The Queen when the little girl proffers Liz the flowers and says “they’re for you,” notwithstanding the real meaning of the scene is that foxy Tony’s scheme worked a charm.
But I’m not so depraved that I can’t also enjoy some good Dead Queen jokes, and apart from Irish Twitter the funniest have been unintentional – that is, the puffed-up boo-hoos of reactionaries who halted, as if by reflex, their usual smackdowns and slurs on the poor and underprivileged to blow their noses over Betty Saxe-Coburg and talk about the Passing of the Old Order. For example, Andrew Sullivan:
For my impertinent reply I got a week off Twitter. Worth it!
Sadly I can’t slap ‘em all. Erick Erickson, for example, glurges that the people cracking wise at the Queen’s death are all snooty liberals. He seems particularly incensed at the black ones, whom he angrily accuses of anger; “undoubtedly,” he fumes, “they also understand their careers are what they are because of white progressive elite head-patters, and it makes them angrier.” Hey, give Erick credit – he learned a variation on “liberal plantation”! But the rest of the shtick is musty as hell – “the left is increasingly cloistered inside a bubble of their own making,” blah blah blah – though nothing in the thing is more sick-making than his attempts at funerary prose:
Truly, I have no words to add to the hundreds of thousands already written about the death of Elizabeth II. I can only offer my prayers. Her shoes are too big for anyone to fill, so I will also pray all of us can give King Charles the grace to walk in his own shoes in his own way, unshackled from the expectations left by our memories of his predecessor, his mother, the Queen. In the shadow of his mother’s crown for so long, he now comes into the light beneath its weight on his head and its burdens on his shoulders as he and his people mourn Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. What a time.
As their eyes pass over this, I doubt even the people who take Erickson seriously are paying close attention, and it registers merely as a gush of So Sad So Sad God Save & Are Eye Pee. But for those of us who can’t help ourselves, it conjures vision of King Charles III trying out one of his thousands of pairs of shoes with a renewed sense of purpose (and a great fat book on his head, to improve his posture), and Erickson, squeezed into an equerry costume, bawling out the late Queen’s honorifics at a suburban barbecue.
I’m grateful that old Bess stood up to the Nazis with whom her wicked Uncle liked to party, and can even understand how the durability of her reign gave very old people some sense of continuity and stability, and that it must be rough to lose it. But most of us do not have such a sense, because the world has been getting worse for a long time and dragging our hope and fortunes down with it; and in that light the bejeweled lady hanging in there year after year to greet one horrible knob after another, then bidding them cheerio as they went out to fuck up England and the world some more, doesn’t seem so much a comfort as a cruel joke.
That’s why the jokes are funny. And speaking of jokes, I have a Roy Edroso Breaks It Down issue on the subject – accept it please in the spirit of the occasion (and tell your friends, since, ahem, I can’t tweet the link). And while you’re at it, read and enjoy the previous one about people who think liberal arts degrees are bad because they don’t make you rich.