Tradition, conformity and me. As I write this, the UK has just exited a week or so of official, national mourning for our late Queen. The Royal Family has come to define the United Kingdom for generations, to the rest of the world (not least because its head is also Head of the Commonwealth, which is another different saga with a damaging past). The “Royals” as they are colloquially known, are the quintessence of tradition, where family members have to conform to protocols or face expulsion or a reduction in their Civil List stipend.
So when HM Queen Elizabeth II died, it was at once a seismic change and an exercise in studied continuity and adherence to tradition. For the vast majority of the UK’s citizens, we had never known another monarch, because she had been on the throne for 70 years.
So her very passing was a shock.
She had been perpetually there, almost eternal in her calm, contained presence. With her gone, there would be a King again. It is worth noting that there has probably been more discussion about his Kingly suitability in the public domain than any of his predecessors since the early 19th Century.
Even her death was traditional.
She died of old age and was buried in a coffin that was made 30 years ago in English Oak, which is nigh-on impossible to find these days. Her funeral processes, both in Scotland and in London, adhered to time-honoured traditions whilst instituting new ones (women and children from her family forming part of her Guard vigil, with the public filing past to pay their respects all the while).
So much has been written about this, I won’t add to the pile. However, I wanted to reflect on the profound impact it had on me. I am a Socialised Maverick . I am purposefully, wilfully independent in my thinking, my approaches and my actions.
The late Queen’s passing had a deep, primal effect on me. It was the end of an era. Cliché, cliché. Except it really was. It was the end of the last fundamental constant from my childhood. And my own late mother was tiny when she passed (although younger and more robust) so there was a twinge of sadness that took me back those ten years, to when she died.
And that’s the issue.
Despite my innate tendency to be wilfully independent, I am not immune to the impact of emotion. Simple emotional responses can floor you when you least expect it. I was moved by the loss, moved by the pomp and ceremony, moved by the evocation of my own bereavement. I became, temporarily, a Socialised Maverick weeping mess.
And that was completely OK. Tradition, conformity and me.
I allowed the emotions to come over me in waves. I noticed them and noticed their impact. And I chose to engage with it all, without judging. I just allowed it. I was able to detach from my “should” and “ought” thoughts and focus on my “what” and “why” thoughts. I processed events in that way, and I found myself at peace after the funeral.
It was a sense of closure, self-compassion and re-assessment for which I am very grateful.