RANDOM THOUGHTS .... On the Passing Of An Era, Done In Style


You gotta hand it to the British. They do pomp and ceremony better than anyone since the Romans (whose gaudy Triumphs and bloody coliseum games are still a source of comment and wonder today), and possibly even better than them. and certainly with less blood and horror.

There was an oddly almost electric sense of solemnity and celebration, to be oxymoronic, a delicate combination to pull off, as the Queen was carried in slow measured steps, with Big Ben sounding the last approach, to Westminster Hall, where she’ll lie in State for as many of her subjects to view as can be briskly moved thru between now and Monday.

Considering that the line to pay their respects is four across, and at last count, seven miles long (expected to grow to 10 miles very shortly, and may already have as I write this), there may not be enough time to accommodate everyone.

The solemnity, of course, was for the passing of an era, and the diminutive woman who created a good deal of it, and held the Commonwealth together for 70 years.

The celebration part was understated (another thing the English do infinitely better than almost anybody else) but unignorable …. the stability of her country as the baton of power passed seamlessly to the next in line. It wasn’t always so in England, but that’s a tale for another day.

WARNING .... Some totally nerdy historical information about Westminster Hall, where so much of England’s history has played out …..

Westminster Hall, which dates back to 1099, is the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate.

It was built by William II, who may have been tired of his father being called William the Bastard, tho by all contemporary accounts he really, really was, and built this impressive edifice presumably so he could get some respect ….

It carries the world’s largest unsupported roof, and it survived 12 direct hits in 1941 during the Battle of Britain, when London was peppered nightly by constant Nazi bombings …. this was its second narrow escape. The first was the fire of 1834, caused by a stove overheating which razed the rest of the Palace of Westminster to the ground, but left Westminster Hall more or less intact.


Richard II, son of Edward, the Black Prince,
who most of
us remember from the movie
A Knight's Tale
Originally, the hall roof was supported by rows of indoor pillars, but Richard II wanted something grander and more spacious, and ordered that they be removed. This created a tricky problem, since without them, the walls couldn't bear the weight of the roof, but a royal decree was a royal decree. The job fell to carpenter Hugh Herland and architect Henry Yevele, who solved the considerable problems by building huge hammer-shaped oak beams and strengthening the walls. Not sure if that includes flying buttresses, which I just love for their delicate tracery and incredible strength.

But I digress ....

In the 14th century the hall became a center of London life, housing the law courts and selling an odd host of legal paraphernalia from wigs and pens to law books, for barristers who needed to “brush up” …..


Fawkes now famous ANONYMOUS mask ....
It was also the scene of the trial of Guy Fawkes (who lives on in the instantly recognizable mask of Anonymous) and his fellow Gunpowder Plot conspirators in 1606, after their thwarted attempt to blow up both the Houses of Parliament. “Remember, remember / The 5th of November…”, is still celebrated today ….


Charles I, by Van Dyke, 1635
It was the setting for the first ever trail of a royal monarch, King Charles I, who was tried for treason found guilty, and beheaded in the 17th century. Next to the current King Charles, only Charles II had to wait almst as long to ascend to the throne, thru the Cromwell revolution and reign and other bits of messiness, before Britain decided that, yeah, maybe a king wasn’t such a bad idea …


Charles II, The Merry Monarch
Charles II was an intellectual, a hedonist, and a lover of women (“If a lady is kind enough to invite one to her bed, it would be churlish of one to decline”), except apparently, his wife. He had no legitimate heirs, but left so many Fitzroys behind that, for all you know, you could be one of his direct descendants. Get in line ....

A witty wag of the day wrote of Charles II …
“We have a pretty, witty king,
Whose word no man relies on,
He never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one"

To which the pretty, witty king, who still lived in a time when he could have had that other witty tongue silenced forever, instead responded that “ …. the matter is easily accounted for: For that our discourse is our own, our actions were the ministry's".


Gladstone in Vanity Fair caricature, 1869
William Gladstone, called The People’s Prime Minister for his liberal views in support of the working man in spite of being a member of the Tory party, was a PM of Britain for 12 years, spread over 4 different non-consecutive terms under Queen Victoria, lay in state there in 1898.

Others who shared that honor were Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Queen Mary …


Winston Churchill in 1944
More recently, Churchill lay in state within those hallowed halls, as well as the Queen Mother, who lived to 102 or 103, so maybe a word to the wise to those smug pundits predicting a very short and inglorious reign for King Charles III.

Well there it is. Now you know way more than you ever wanted to about England and some of her traditions, which are a good reminder that it takes a lot to bring down a solid institution, what with so many on this side of the Pond bemoaning the death of democracy. Or in our case, the Constitutional Republic.

God bless Good Queen Bess II, and flights of angels sing her to her rest ….


Since there was another post all about WEIRD things which happen in daylight......

(I need to return to reading more of that, thank you @YippeeKi YOW !! )

I was innocently watching a TV event about royal this and royal that and while I sat there in my living room a ceremony took place and they came out of one of the gates of Westminster.

And the hair rose up on the back of my neck and I felt this ice cold feeling and decided that the relatives had entered the room.

They got excited. About the gate being used in this ceremony....
(I need to return to reading more of that, thank you @YippeeKi YOW !! )
It's a fascinating little waddle, and I enjoyed it immensely, glad you are, too....

I'm not sure it adds anything of lasting value to our lives, but who gives a hoo-ha. It's entertaining, and it opens doors to Other Places, which is always a benefit when mired down by this crappy little Chinese Finger Trap of an illness ....
Back when I read books, I"d read about some of the older K and Qs......because its rather fascinating...but then I ignore the more recent brigade of royal this or thats.

Post 1630, I ignore them mostly.

I like revisionist history! Where they put females in the room we were supposedly missing from. But we were in the room, all along.
when a Monarch dies things just keep rolling along.
I often wonder if the Millennials, who seem to be the generation most opposed to the monarchy, mostly because it costs too much and doesnt seem to do much, have ever considered exactly what they DO contribute (I'm excluding Sparkle from this, for obvious reasons), and what would happen to their sceptered isle if the monarchy were abolished, or reduced to a sort of side gig for tourists to take selfies with.

My guess is the answer is no, they haven't. They're too busy having 'meaningful experiences', and buying God-awful mismatched mid century furniture ....
and to hear Big Ben ringing out in the background.
I found that the most moving of all. The slow, deliberate " ... for whom the bell tolls ..." farewell.
I must be in the silent majority in the UK. I am not a royalist but I can appreciate that Queen Elizabeth never put a foot wrong and carried out her duties with dignity but I cannot understand why someone would wait in a queue for hours (22 at the last count) to see a coffin for a woman who they didn't even know! I also think it was wrong to force young children to wait in the queue for hours.

I didn't know the queen and only every saw her on television shaking hands with someone. I have sympathy for the family as I would for anyone who has lost a much loved granny but this constant talking about how great the queen was and how marvellous her family are is really sickening.

Many families are struggling to pay their bills we are being told so I cannot understand why people are glorifying a family that has been born into a life of wealth and privalege.

The Lying in State is on nearly every tv channel. (I know I can switch over to others and I do.) I think the UK has gone mad.

I also am worried by the fact that people are being arrested or questioned by police for just holding up a blank sheet of paper. I didn't think the guy shouting out at Andrew was appropriate but it was not illegal for him to do so. By the way I am 65. It's not just the younger generation who are not royalists.
I cannot understand why someone would wait in a queue for hours (22 at the last count) to see a coffin for a woman who they didn't even know! I also think it was wrong to force young children to wait in the queue for hours.
I think they want to pay tribute to a long and honorable life of duty, responsibility, and dedication, qualities that were pretty rare even in 1953, but are virtually invisible now.

The fact that they wanted to share this moment with their children is not uncommon when a rare event is unfolding. It's a way to bring the very youngest into the zeitgeist of the moment ...

My grandmother's fondest memory was of being dragged, at the age of 3 or 4, to a parade for Woodrow Wilson, and being hoisted on her father's shoulder to see the passing parade. She ever forgot that, altho she came to dislike Wilson deeply when she grew up. But that meory is golden for her ....
this constant talking about how great the queen was and how marvellous her family are is really sickening.
The Queen managed to keep the commonwealth from falling apart after WW II, and grew it considerably thru the force and depth of her character and personality. I think that's what's being referred to when mentioning her greatness.

As far as her family goes .... well, the less said about them the better, tho Princess Anne seems to be the closest in character to her mother ....
The Lying in State is on nearly every tv channel. (I know I can switch over to others and I do.) I think the UK has gone mad.
No, they know that they're honoring a remarkable force and life, as well as the end of an era, and an end that may become quite unpleasant and bloody in its inevitable unraveling.

Every time a country leaves the Commonwealth there will be a foreign power anxious to snuffle them up and use them as ammunition against ..... whoever. What kept the Commonwealth countries in the fold was the quiet power of the Queen, a power I have serious doubts about her poor son, now King Charles III, being about to wield.

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