Identity is dead, long live identity

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Society, Trust

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There’s a space on the balcony where the old Queen once stood which the new King has yet to fill. And, with the crowds departed, the spurs hung up at the barracks, the grief stricken now safely at home, the other space to be filled is that of Britain’s identity and place in the world.

In these early days after her funeral, it seems the ‘national’ values held high by Queen Elizabeth II over seventy years may well have passed with her.The collective grief expressed during the mourning period was, I believe, an opportunity for many to mourn not just their Queen but those they had lost during COVID, gone to their graves with no ceremony allowed, the occasion all but unmarked because of the restrictions in place at that time.

Perhaps the old Queen’s last act of service to her people was to bring them together to weep and mourn. A wise friend of mine says that when we attend a funeral we are mourning not just the person in front of us but all those we have loved and lost before. At a state funeral, it not just the person we farewell – we farewell a time, an era, a way of being and an identity that we – and others – recognise. 

The political and economic chaos that has followed the Queen’s death has made it hard to pinpoint what new ‘British’ values will emerge. Watching from afar, it appears values are as rare as hen’s teeth in Westminster with the only visible concern being to cling on to ‘power’ to ensure the ‘leaders’ (I use the term loosely) continue to live their life of privilege. Fairness, duty, steadfastness, justice, genuine concern and will for the lot of others – all seem to have evaporated in a puff of Thatcher-fuelled smoke.I guess we’ll just have to watch this space.