From your Royal Correspondent For Not Much Longer
Having queued up in Red Square for a while in sub-zero temperatures to file past the embalmed corpse of Lenin I can understand to a degree the mystique generated by being in close proximity to the ‘presence’ of someone who featured prominently in the human story. I can’t say it was anything Lenin did that encouraged this joining of the queue, Lenin’s Mausoleum after all had become little more than a tourist attraction for curious Westerners by 1988. And apart from feeling the cold (it was November) the visit was free. I’m not quite sure what one hoped to gain from such a visit. What psychological impulse would be satisfied? The queue today to file past the Queen’s coffin is apparently five miles long,and had to be closed off at its tail at one point. I can’t remember there ever having been such a queue at any event when the Queen was alive. So far as I know, the Queen’s visits hither and thither were well attended, but in royal terms pretty routine, with local schools giving their pupils an hour or two off classes to line the route, plastic Union Jacks in hand. What we are witnessing now is a repeat of the death of the ‘People’s Princess,’ a death funnily enough which caught the ‘Firm’ off guard, as they showed a degree of confused ambivalence from which they were only rescued by Tony Blair (and Peter Mandelson, the future King’s friend, behind the scenes). But this one’s been well planned for, with all the theatrics catered for.
In the current media frenzy, it is not impossible to see that a five mile long queue could easily be generated from the millions of monarchists here and abroad, and from the merely curious, and the selfie takers. The sheer overload of reportage has it that this is the biggest event in history, rather than the inevitable passing away of a 96-year old.
The stress of it all is apparently even getting to us Royal Correspondents (RCs), with RC pro-tem Huw Edwards falling prey to bloodshot eyes on the very day that King Charles visited his homeland Wales. Funnily enough, even the Beeb couldn’t censor the loud boos that welcomed the royal visitor. Perhaps a new sentiment is growing in the Principality. Wills and Kate have their work cut out to live up to their new titles, learning Welsh and all. Good luck to them, I bet they hadn’t really thought that one through. So, as perhaps you can tell, this stage of the game is just a kind of stream of consciousness, when the first thing that pops into your mind will dwell there until for us Royal Correspondents something else pops into our minds. Right Royal Soma, it is.