Monday, 5 September
The fine summer weather is well and truly gone this week. Outside as I write these lines it’s wet and windy and there’s thunder and lightning, and we’re set to have these conditions tomorrow and Wednesday too.
Tuesday, 6 September
Liz Truss has won the Tory Party leadership contest (it’s been obvious for some time she would do so) — 56% of the votes cast to 44% for Sunak, which is closer than expected because it was predicted she’d win 60% to 40% if not more handsomely — and so today she becomes Britain’s 56th prime minister (Sir Robert Walpole in the 1720s & 30s counted as the first). This morning Boris Johnson flies to Scotland to hand over the premier’s baton to HMQ at Balmoral — who at 96 is having mobility problems and courtiers feel it would be unwise to send her down to London to do all this stuff at Buck House, so Johnson and Truss have to fly to Aberdeenshire and do their genuflecting up there (Truss and Johnson will be travelling up and back separately, apparently) — and, half an hour after Johnson bows his fat ass out the door, HMQ will invite the 47-year-old Mary Elizabeth Truss to form a government.
Fintan O’Toole published the following in the Irish Times which is on the button so far as I’m concerned.
Liz Truss will make Johnson seem a political genius, May a mistress of empathy, Cameron a beacon of sincerity
Tory Party has chosen, not to wake up to the increasingly grim realities of contemporary Britain, but to double down on game of ‘let’s pretend’
The ageing WB Yeats complained in ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ that his soul, stuck in his increasingly decrepit body, was “fastened to a dying animal”. With the absurd accession of Liz Truss to 10 Downing Street, it increasingly feels like Ireland too is tethered to a moribund creature.
In a healthy or happy democracy, Truss doesn’t get to be prime minister, even in her own fantasies. She is Theresa May without the seriousness and Boris Johnson without the charisma — a combination of ingredients scraped by a mad chef from the bottom of a very deep barrel.
With her, the Tory Party has chosen, not to wake up to the increasingly grim realities of contemporary Britain, but to double down on the game of “let’s pretend”.
With Johnson, it was “let’s pretend it’s 1940 and he’s Winston Churchill”. With Truss, it’s “let’s pretend it’s 1980 and she’s Margaret Thatcher”. With both, it is let’s pretend that Britain’s problems were caused by the EU and that the British bulldog has now been let off the leash, ready to romp through the sunlit uplands of a new golden age.
You only have to pretend this hard when you’re avoiding something big. What’s being evaded here is decline.
In thinking about Britain’s slow decline, the usual point of comparison is with, say, the rise of China. But a much better comparator is much closer to home — the little country just across the Irish Sea.
Ireland, God knows, has very serious problems, most of them rooted in its peculiar combination of hyperdevelopment and underdevelopment. But it’s doing better than Britain is.
Twenty five years ago, Ireland was poorer, more corrupt and more in thrall to reactionary nationalism than Britain was. Now, on all three counts, the reality is reversed.
The true measure of decline or advance for a country is the standard of living of ordinary people. For centuries, Irish people emigrated to Britain because the standard of living was better there.
It’s not any more. There’s been a dramatic decline in the growth of median household incomes in the UK this century.
The Tories came back into power in 2010. Over the course of this unbroken period of rule, typical household incomes in Britain have risen more slowly than those in only two other western European countries: Greece and Cyprus.
Thus, while Truss, and the cult to which she now adheres with the zeal of a convert, tell a story in which Britain has been held back by the EU, the truth is that almost every other EU country did much better than Britain — Ireland included.
Typical incomes rose by 34 per cent in France and 27 per cent in Germany between 2007 and 2018. In Britain they fell by two per cent.
And, from our point of view, the remarkable fact is that typical incomes of ordinary people in Ireland are now six per cent higher than they are in Britain. It’s hard to overstate the historic nature of this reversal.
It’s not just economics, though. At the start of this century, if you were told there would be a pandemic that required governments to spend vast amounts of money on procurement, you would have said that the Brits will probably spend the money honestly while the Irish would see much of it diverted into shady deals and the enrichment of cronies.
Yet the evidence is that this actually worked the other around. Ireland is not an isle of saints, but it looks, objectively, much less politically corrupt than Britain now is.
Finally, Ireland is now less mad than Britain. It is less prone to the head-staggers of reactionary nationalism. Who could imagine an Irish government doing something so pointlessly cruel as flying asylum seekers off to Rwanda?
For an old-fashioned English patriot with an old-fashioned English habit of looking down on Ireland as a strange and backward place, these comparisons ought to alarming. Whatever about falling behind the Germans, being surpassed by the benighted Irish ought to be rather shaming.
But acknowledging that would require a reckoning with the legacy of a Tory party that is maniacally pressing Control+Alt+Delete by changing its leaders with the seasons. Its one remaining trick seems to be that of making each new one so bad that the previous disaster is cast, retrospectively, in a more sympathetic light.
Truss will certainly achieve this. She will make Johnson seem a political genius, May a mistress of empathy, David Cameron a beacon of sincerity.
These are morbid symptoms. Truss is the embodied death wish of a faction that has lost the will to live as a real party of government.
She is the ‘My Lovely Horse’ of Father Ted, the ‘Springtime for Hitler’ of The Producers — designed for failure. The Tory press will sing ‘My Lovely Liz’ and ‘Springtime for Truss’ with unironic gusto, but the illusion will be as transparent as it will be short-lived.
We in Ireland, tied whether we like it or not to the fate of our neighbouring polity, must hope that this death-rattle does not go on too much longer. Perhaps Truss’s accession is a last rite, a ghost dance for a desperate tribe. Perhaps, after her, there will be a deluge of reckonings with reality.
Thursday, 8 September
Queen Elizabeth died today. She died in the afternoon, apparently, but the announcement of her death didn’t come until about 6:30 in the evening, nevertheless it was obvious the end had come for the 96-year-old — the longest serving monarch in British history — whether the announcement came this evening, tonight or tomorrow or the day after.
At around lunchtime the Palace put out a statement saying that doctors were concerned for the queen’s health and while she was comfortable she was under ongoing medical supervision (something along such lines anyhow), but, while the statement itself was bland and matter of fact, decoded by people in the know it was clear she’d had a stroke and was in a coma or something of the like (although no one spoke in such terms, not even media talking heads), especially when combined with the fact that the authorities at Balmoral put up the House of Windsor’s version of the bat signal and Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, William and Harry abandoned whatever they were at and hot-footed it to Balmoral.
Two days after its formation, Liz Truss’ government was in the process of announcing its £100 billion package of measures to help people deal with the coming energy crisis in the Commons at the time and you could see by the way MPs were checking their phones and conferring with one another that something serious had happened. Then Nadhim Zahawi, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, came into the chamber and sat down beside the PM and handing her a note whispered in her ear and you could tell from her face and from their subsequent interaction that something of significance was afoot (it was a little like George Bush being told that the Twin Towers were under attack in September 2001).
A little while later, speaking for the whole House, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, interrupted proceedings to make a ‘our thoughts and prayers’ statement. Had it been that the queen twisted her ankle or puked up her breakfast or anything of the sort there would have been no such interruption during so momentous a proceeding — a newly formed government announcing £100 billion of unplanned spending in its first week in office — so the Speaker intervening in this way meant that in one form or another he and the PM were being told more than we were being told — it was probable that the queen was either at death’s door or already dead. (Apparently in official circles the code for this foreseeable event was ‘London Bridge is down’.)
On Tuesday morning HMQ accepted Boris Johnson’s resignation and appointed Liz Truss to replace him, making Truss her 15th prime minister — Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Hume, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, May, Johnson and now Truss). In the press release photo put out to accompany this story on Tuesday the back of one of the queen’s hands appeared to be almost completely blackened.
Liz Truss did her genuflection in a drawing room with a roaring fire in the background and but even at a distance I remember being struck by the blackness of the back of one of the queen’s hands. She — HMQ — was upright for the meeting (or at least she was upright for the photo) but held a walking stick in her left hand, her right out-stretched for the handshake with Truss.
The queen was born in 1926, so same generation as my father and Lily. Her father died in February 1952 (same time as my maternal grandfather died, which may go some way to explaining the rather strong identification Mum had with the queen, not that she was a royalist of course but she appeared to have a clear personal connection with this queen such that I wonder whether the fact that they both lost their fathers at around the same time had anything to do with it?). Coronation, June 1953. 70 years a queen — even though the coronation wasn’t until the following year, she became queen immediately on the death of her father.
She married Philip, a prince of Greece and Denmark, in 1947; her husband of 73 years died 18 months ago, in April 2021.
Charles was born in 1948. Charles is to become King Charles III (royals often take another name upon ascending to the throne — Elizabeth’s uncle, for example, Edward VIII, the guy who abdicated, was David, and before he became king Edward VII was Albert, or more familiarly ‘Bertie’, and before she became queen the person we know as Queen Victoria was known as Alexandrina; popes also take reign names, for example the present Pope Francis’ name before becoming pope was Jorge, Jorge Mario Bergoglio) and so following ‘the Second Elizabethan Age’ (a Churchillian coinage) a Carolean episode.
The BBC have gone completely loopy, all day today and all of this evening on every channel, wall-to-wall the queen and how much we love her and how much the world admired her and will mourn her passing. All way over the top! For most of today they didn’t have enough news to fill a 10-minute broadcast but they went on and on and on and on repeating the same inane clichés over and over again, hour after hour, reading out the messages on cards left by nutters outside the gates of royal palaces (it seems to me the BBC is attempting to gin up a hullabaloo like we had for Diana in ’97 — the long-reigning monarch going head to head with the upstart princess in a celebrity death match-up to see which of them can be mourned more, totally tasteless, as it seems to me, unseemly, tabloidesque).
It looks like we’re going to have up to two weeks of this! Jesus, Lord, have mercy! Funeral arrangements have not been finalized as yet but it looks like it’ll be next weekend at the earliest so we’re going to have 10 or 12 days of it at the very least.
I recognise that it’s a significant chapter-ending in the British story (the second Elizabethan reign shepherding the country from the tailend of Empire to a shorn-of-Empire state — quite a tricky transition to pilot one’s way through, many a regime has come a cropper attempting the like — and then into and out of the European Union), and personally I thought the queen did a good job — she performed that role as well as it could be performed, probably a 9 or 9.5 out of 10 for me — but to commandeer every channel on radio and television for hagiographical purposes like this is like being in some totalitarian state. Yes, it’s a big deal, and yes, Radio 4 and the World Service should go for it in serious ways (and maybe have Radio 3 do mournful music and celebratory stuff too — celebrating the queen’s life and long reign), but not every fucking channel (all day every day)! It’s too much. Have one or two channels do so so that those who want to can tune into it (god bless) but not everyone wants that stuff 24/7.
And certainly not two whole weeks of it! If she was buried next Tuesday or Wednesday (or even later next week) it would be fine, I could understand the whole of this weekend and the most of next week being given over to it, but two whole weekends sandwiching a full week of it is just too much of that stodgy British pudding. And I feel sure many Britons will feel similarly.
And it may even be that they don’t bury her next weekend either! They might take it into yet another Monday-to-Friday. So it may even be two whole weeks plus two long weekends!
The Brits love this sort of guff and they’re going to flog this old warhorse until it’s a soupy bloody mush, an unwholesome mush looking like chopped liver that’s been left out in the sun and rain for two weeks. Lying in state, military drill solemn parading, funeral bells, rituals to do with flags and emblems, world leaders gathering (Biden, Obama and George Bush [but not Trump is my guess], Macron, Ursula von der Leyen, Olaf Scholz, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan and troupes up out of Africa, the Japanese royals and of course the Spaniards and all the other royal houses of Europe), the full works, it’ll be a cultural event as big as the Olympics — as big as the Olympics but with a lot less time to plan it. Although it’s been obvious for some time that this was on the horizon so there must be some planning done (all year I’ve been dreading that she’d die while Boris Johnson was PM, he would have relished it so much, now he’s just another former PM, a disgraced one at that).
Liz Truss’ big give-away day totally blanketed by this and all that will now follow on. The stuff her government announced yesterday is difficult to price because it’ll depend on how events unfold going forward but most analysts say it’ll cost £100 billion, at a minimum, maybe as much as $150bn, and maybe even more than that. (Just to have a sense of things, I believe all of the pandemic-related spending in the UK totalled at something just over £200bn.) Imagine coming into office as a fiscal conservative and in your first week in office forking out that amount of money (plus she’s committed to another £30bn in tax cuts for the all too wealthy). And then to have it all blanketed like this so that not only do you spend a train load of cash almost on Day One but you don’t even get the newspaper headlines and PR benefit of it in terms of a honeymoon start-off for your premiership.
I’ll give Truss credit for one thing, however, and that’s the way she managed PMQs on Wednesday. Only 24 hours in the job and stand there and take questions from all quarters on who knows what topic is impressive, she was much better at it than I would have guessed. And, fair play to her, she actually addressed the questions asked for the most part; Johnson invariably pivoted away from the question and went on the attack. So it was refreshing to hear and see someone listen to the question and make some sort of decent attempt at addressing the issue. I don’t like her, obviously, but I thought PMQs went well for her (which is even more impressive because, as I say, I’m prejudiced against her, a hostile witness). I only tuned into PMQs to watch her get a kicking but I was disappointed.
Saturday, 10 September
Fintan O’Toole in the Irish Times today:
Britain is becoming ungovernable and Truss will not last long: Liz Truss knows that Brexit cannot solve Britain’s problems. That will make her an even bigger phony.
Ten years ago, Liz Truss and four other young Conservative MPs (among them Truss’s new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng) published a book called Britannia Unchained. It is a manifesto for a renewal of full-blooded Thatcherism: cut taxes, regulation and public spending, control the deficit, bring back “hard work”.
The document is notorious for its contempt for ordinary British people: “Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world.” An Irish person who said that would be accused, quite rightly, of Anglophobia.
But, returning to this jeremiad now, the most interesting thing about it is actually what it does not say. For what it does not suggest, either explicitly or implicitly, is that what poor Britannia needs to be “unchained” from is the European Union.
Truss was writing just four years before the Brexit referendum. She is now, of course, an arch-Brexiteer.
Future historians will surely look in this book for the ideological roots of the English revolution of 2016. They will be disappointed and baffled — there’s nothing there.
The EU is simply not an issue. There’s a glancing complaint that “Britain is increasingly isolated from the European Union, and distant from . . . America”.
But the only real comment on Britain’s place in the EU is one very brief passage that in fact dismisses the idea that Brussels is the problem: “[Britain] retains enough independence from Europe to not get dragged down by a broken single currency, or an out-of-date social democratic model”.
It’s important to understand this: the people who are now governing Britain never believed in what is now Britain’s governing myth: that their nation’s greatness was being occluded by its unnatural incarceration in the EU. They may, in some respects, be quite stupid — but they were never quite that stupid.
What was at stake for Truss and Kwarteng and the others in 2012 was the question of blame. Whose fault was it that Britain was in decline?
To their credit, their essential answer was: we ourselves. They declined to make the EU what England (according to Wolfe Tone) had been for Ireland: “the never-failing source of all our evils”.
The diagnosis of those ills was wrong-headed — productivity has nothing to do with a mythic “work ethic” and everything to do with education, skills and technology. The cures were neoliberal quackery.
But at least it could be said for Truss and Kwarteng that they were trying to understand British problems without scapegoating foreigners, immigrants or Brussels bureaucrats. The chains they believed Britain had to lose were forged of home-made steel.
In this, Truss is a very worthy successor to Boris Johnson. Johnson never believed the Brexit story either — he just realised that he could hitch a ride on a rocket ship fuelled by English nationalism and fantasies of liberation.
And this, then, makes it a hat-trick. Since the Brexit referendum of 2016, Britain has had three leaders: the Remainer Theresa May, the cynical opportunist Johnson and now the zealous convert Truss.
None of them really, truly believed that Britain was being oppressed and held back by the EU. But each of them, in order to attain power, has had to enact that pretence.
This is why Britain is becoming ungovernable, why May and Johnson lasted three years each and Truss will most probably not hold on even that long. It is not possible to sustain a polity in which there is such a vast gap between the obvious problems and the alleged solution.
Perhaps the most interesting question about British politics since 2016 is why no true believer in Brexit has actually become prime minister. It is, in this, unique among revolutions — in any other I can think of, the new regime that replaces the old one is made up of those who genuinely thought the revolution was a good idea.
This time, in their leadership contest, the members of the Conservative Party in fact had one of those. Rishi Sunak was a sincere Brexiteer who adopted the cause at a time when it was by no means obvious that doing so would be good for his career. The party rejected him.
So why is this, apparently, a cause that can be led only by those who don’t really believe in it? Perhaps for the same reason that religions really like converts and reformed sinners — they reinforce the faith by showing that even those who once stood outside it cannot now stand against it.
The consequence, though, is an inescapable phoniness. If Brexit Britain were led by Britons who really believe in Brexit, there would at least have to be some attempt to make it work, to do what revolutionaries must do and accommodate the ideals of the revolution to the real world.
What we have with Truss, though, is the continuing necessity to treat Brexit as a performance. It has not, to put it very mildly, solved any of Britain’s big problems. But, instead of making pragmatism more likely, this truth makes it almost impossible.
This is the problem for Ireland. We ought by now to be in the post-revolutionary period when Brexit is a settled fact and everyone is trying to knuckle down to the expediencies of damage limitation — especially in relation to Northern Ireland.
But the very insincerity of Truss’s attachment to the project has the paradoxical effect of making it all the more necessary for her to enact her role as its champion and defender.
Her dilemma, as things fall apart very rapidly around her, will be the old one: who to blame. Having been in government for eight years herself, the answer can’t be “us” any more. What was possible in a neo-Thatcherite manifesto a decade ago is not possible now.
For the blame game on the right of British politics will now always be played on the Brexit field: why is Brexit not working? Why are we not in the golden age already?
Truss knows the answer damn well: because Brexit was never a solution, merely, at best, a distraction from the real problems. But the more she knows that, the less likely it is that she will say it.
So why isn’t Brexit working? Ah, the answer to that question takes us back to the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone.
Ordinary political logic would dictate that Truss should quickly negotiate with Brussels a package of measures to deal with the practical problems of the Northern Ireland protocol. Get that off the table and move on to the much more urgent questions that her electorate actually cares about.
But we’re not in Kansas anymore. The grimmer things get for Truss, the more desperate she will be for distractions: culture wars, enemies of the people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish, the EU. She does know better — but that will make it all the worse.
One thing O’Toole doesn’t say in his piece is that two of the other authors of Britannia Unchained were Dominic Raab and Priti Patel, what a quartet! The Bucks Fizz of Tory politics.
O’Toole writes of the UK’s ungovernability at the minute, consider this: in the past 6 years the UK has had 4 prime ministers (and if Truss loses the next election — and I feel sure she will — then it’ll be 5 PMs in the space of 8 years, that’s five administrations in less than a decade, which is an Italian rate of churn).
And in the past 8 years the UK has had six Foreign Secretaries (now it’s James Cleverly, before that it was Truss, before her Dominic Rabb, before Rabb Jeremy Hunt, before Hunt Boris Johnson and before Johnson it was Philip Hammond), blink and you might miss one. And of course Foreign Office work is all about establishing and building relationships. At this stage you’d almost need to check your watch before saying who’s in charge at the FO. (And in addition to the turnover of ministers, because these Brexiteers are not conservatives, they’re radicals, maybe even revolutionary radicals, they have the radical’s distrust of the civil service and other aspects of what they see as the ‘deep state’ so we’ve seen senior administrative personnel in the Cabinet Office, the Foreign Office, the Home Office and the Treasury unceremoniously cleared out, and in many other departments too I shouldn’t wonder, replacing them with people being promoted for their politics rather than their abilities, or worse being promoted for their willingness to do anything the authorities may want.)
At this stage we’ve now had six Chancellors in the space of 6 years! — Kwasi Kwarteng is the latest instalment, before him for a few weeks we had Nadhim Zahawi, then Rishi Sunak, then Sajid Javid, then Philip Hammond and before that George Osborne.
This is what an unstable polity looks like. The state is spinning itself into a tizzy.
And this is before one even begins to think about the quality and the track record of some of these characters: Boris Johnson, for instance, a total and obvious liar, a preposterous proposition for PM, a politics-as-entertainment act, and by all accounts some of Nadhim Zahawi’s business dealings wouldn’t bear stern scrutiny (his first mentor in politics and public life was Jeffrey Archer, for goodness sakes). And Priti Patel is a well-suspect character too in my view; wasn’t she dismissed from a position she held a few years back because of some out-of-bounds dealings she had with some Israelis? And that Rwanda business is a total disgrace. I’d love to see an investigative group do an examination into who’s been backing her, who does she really represent? And then of course there’s Johnson and the Lebedevs (and who knows what other suspect characters). If you zoom out a little from what’s happening and look at things with a wider frame it’s alarming, I think. Shambolic, mendacious and dishonest.
Sunday, 11 September
Billy Bragg put a nice piece about the death of the monarch up on Facebook:
It is reputedly the longest train journey in Germany – from Munich to Hamburg via Leipzig and Berlin, over seven hours travel time. That’s where I found myself on Thursday as news came through that the Queen’s doctors were ‘concerned about her health’. I was in Germany to give a couple of talks about my most recent book ‘The Three Dimensions of Freedom’ which had originally been planned for 2020. As I was explaining to my travelling companion from my Munich based publisher that the Queen had been becoming visibly frail for some time, I saw a screenshot of Huw Edwards, the BBC newscaster, wearing a black tie.
“I think we have to assume the Queen is already dead” I told my German friend. It seemed unthinkable to me that the BBC would go into mourning by mistake. The outrage that would descend on the corporation should they be seen to jump the gun on such a sensitive issue would be more damaging than any of the scandals that have beset them over the past decade.
It would be several more hours until I saw confirmation of her death, while travelling to the event in a taxi. It was interesting to be in a foreign country when the news broke. People seemed genuinely surprised, unaware that the Queen’s health recently been in decline. The taxi driver, a middle aged man, was visibly moved and spoke about how he felt when his father had died a year after the death of his mother. When I mentioned the news to the audience, there was an audible gasp of shock. Later, in my hotel room, I found that a number of German tv channels were covering the news live.
The Queen clearly meant something to these people, beyond her being the head of state of a neighbouring country.
Personally, I’ve never had strong feelings about the monarchy and the cosmetic role they play in our constitution. My concerns have always been about the way the powers which were once the sole preserve of the monarch have been conferred onto the prime minister, allowing the holder of that office to declare war and sign treaties without recourse to parliamentary debate. Hopefully the ascension of Charles III will initiate a debate about the role of the monarchy in a modern democracy, perhaps helping to kick start reforms such as the abolition of the House of Lords and a written constitution.
Having said that, I do want to take a moment to reflect on the passing of a person who has played a role in our national life over the past seven decades that is unrivalled in its significance. The importance of the Queen as a figurehead was made clear to me in 2007 when I saw a news report of the dedication of the Armed Forces Memorial, remembering those who lost their lives in conflicts since the Second World War. Watching the Queen walk along a line of ex-service personnel who had fought in every war from Korea to Afghanistan, I was struck by the thought that there is no one in British public life whose presence at an event could be equally meaningful to an 80 year old veteran as well as one in their 20s.
Obviously this is a product of the record-breaking longevity of her reign. Very few of us alive today can recall anyone else sitting on the British throne. That fact alone is what makes the notion of a King Charles III so strange and unfamiliar.
As a child, I had a great aunt who lived around the corner from us. Aunt Hannah was born in 1887 and lived in an upstairs flat that was lit by gaslight. She cooked on a coal-fired range and had neither tv nor telephone. Her only real concession to modernity was the fact that she would walk the two streets to our house to watch Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Like the Queen, she represented a living link with the past, a sense that all the things that had happened in her life could be summoned into the room by her memories. She died in 1972. By the time Elizabeth II was crowned, Aunt Hannah had lived through the reigns of six different monarchs in her 66 years. I’ve managed to rack up almost as many years without witnessing a single coronation.
For people around my age, there is another dimension that gives this moment in our history a poignancy that defies the rational concerns about crown and constitution.
Like the Queen, my parents were born in the 1920s and their formative years were shaped by the Second World War. Her father, George VI, had been Emperor of India and as a child had sat on the knee of Queen Victoria. Yet Elizabeth II represented a break with the Victorian idea of monarchy and empire. Her coronation in 1953 held the promise of a new beginning, of a world without colonies where the state supported each citizen from the cradle to the grave.
My parents were married that same year and, as part of that Elizabethan cohort, they aged along with the Queen, the great markers in their lives falling in the same span of years. They were in uniform together, they met their partners together, had children and later grandchildren together. With both my parents gone, the Queen endured as a reminder of who they were and who they became. She was their last representative, still visible in the life of our nation.
So when they bury her next week, I too will mourn – not so much for the passing of a monarch, but for the passing of a generation.