The Funeral | 2234

The 21 century has finally arrived in Britain with the passing of a crown.The Carolingian age has begun in the kingdom.

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The Funeral

Last year I wrote about what was going to happen when the Queen died. I still stand by my prediction.

The 12 days of state mandated mourning has been difficult to describe to people outside of the UK. Amidst the biggest crisis since the second world war, the country was put on pause. Here are some things that happened:

Protesters were arrested. The establishment reacted with apoplexy that any republican could even exist. The longest queue in recorded history formed along the Thames to see the Queen’s coffin lying in state. The Speaker of the House of commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle said live on TV that: The Queen’s Funeral was β€œThe most important event the world will ever see”. The public were asked not to leave marmalade sandwiches in the memorial garden.

The more you believe in the institution of the Crown the more real the Queen becomes.

For 72 years, generations of the Queen’s subjects have sung to God to save her and crush the rebellious Scots. They sang it in the boarding schools our media elite attended. Before football matches, before wars. But that anthem now has new words. God save the King we sing, making real the new inhabitant of the β€˜non-statutory corporation sole’. King Charles the III. 

The Queen was, at the end of the day, just a human being. Like you or I.

Yet at the moment of her accession to the throne through the glamour of arcane ritual, and capital P power, she embodied the materiality of a declining Empire. The State made flesh.

This is why I went to the Funeral.

Why I went to experience it. I wanted to see the state, with all its power, ritualised and actualised with my own eyes. 

10 mins to sunrise I got the train into town.

Meeting friends before walking the length of the route to find a spot to watch the proceedings. That walk set the tone for the day.

I have never felt more like a prole than when I first encountered the wall of steel raised around the Funeral route.

I’ve seen big temporary barriers erected during protests in London before. But these giant green metal walls were far more permanent and imposing. Guarded by stony faced coppers stood stock still.

These walls were another manifestation of the state. One that had said: No. No you cannot see or go beyond this point. Yes, things are happening over there, but you prole, are to stay over here. 

About 8.30am after an hour’s walk though London we found a spot in Knightsbridge. Right at the front. By the barriers, opposite the Oriental Hotel along South Carriage drive. 

Every 100 metres along the road stood a copper. None of them in the high viz that I’ve come to expect from the modern constabulary. Instead, they were dressed in crisp white shirts, body armour and helmets. Dressed more or less the same at the funeral as they would have done at the coronation. I wondered if there was some sort of aesthetic symmetry in play. 

With no big screens to follow the proceedings, we followed events on our phones. Second hand audio of the BBC’s coverage was blasted out by distorted loud speakers overlapped by sound from smartphones. With the phone network creaking, each device suffered different amounts of latency. A moment of high techno-strange-ness occurred as live streamed audio bleed well into the beginning of the two minutes silence.

Our 5 hour wait fuelled by thermos coffee and packed sandwiches wore on. The crowd behind grew, and hotel staff and guests trickled out onto balconies. Eventually as packed as we were down on the roadside.

We heard it before we saw it. From Wellington Arch, a ripple of cheers and clapping swelled along the crowd. The moment came and 1000’s of cameras went up, including mine. Flowers launched over our head into the road, and I got to see what I came to see.

A wand, an orb and a crown, placed upon the coffin of a dead monarch. 

All the powers of the state. All its glamour, its violence, its cruelty, its history. Reduced. Compressed into physical objects. 

For 5 or so seconds the artefacts representing not only the second Elizabethan age. But the end of an Empire, the invention of the United Kingdom, and the era of the post war settlement speed past. The moment in time, and a period of history.

I saw a hearse leaving a city, and a country in decline for a literal castle in Berkshire.

For 12 days, the day to day running of the country had been put on hold. Since the great un-pausing, our new prime minister, Liz Truss, the last of the neoliberals, has made moves. Markets have slid, the pound has fallen. The reality of a red white and blue Brexit and post pandemic Britain, all hitting home. 

Last year I said the interregnum would be a period of deranged manufactured consent and statue discourse. Keep calm, and carry on amidst rising ​​fascism, supply chain crisis, empty shelves, channel drownings, rivers of shite, and rapid inflation.

In the event, I underestimated the scale of the crisis. In the coming months the British State, and the State of Britain, entwined closer than at any time in the last half century will begin to unspool. War, blackouts, earthquakes and the collapse of the NHS are all in store. 

The 21 century has finally arrived in Britain with the passing of a crown.

The Carolingian age has begun in the kingdom.

The 21 century has finally arrived in Britain with the passing of a crown.

The Carolingian age has begun in the kingdom.


The script above is the original script I wrote for the episode. It may differ from what ended up in the episode in the edit.

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3 responses to “The Funeral | 2234”

  1. […] I should also mention: If you are going to read one thing today. The read Huw Lemmey’s post about his trip to the sauna after we went our separate ways post watching the funeral together. […]

  2. […] The Queen died, a prime minister deliberately crashed the economy. The richest man in the world now owns a car company, a solar panel company, a rocket factory and a social network. Supermarkets are half empty and Britan has no eggs. […]

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