I remember the day of the Queen`s coronation. We had bought a black and white television. Our house in Bristol (in Tyndall Avenue, and yes Tyndall was a slave trader among other things…) had three rooms on the ground floor. Dining-room, lounge, and Daddy`s study. In the lounge my mother had set out plates of cucumber sandwiches, and in the dining-room, we were a collection of people. I don`t remember exactly who. Enough for the occasion. I skipped back and forth across the red-carpeted hall – between Queen and cucumber sandwiches. Nobody had step counters then, and in any case I was only 9.
I have no idea what the concept of a new Queen meant to the adults in the two rooms, but to me it meant mainly …cucumber sandwiches. Since that time I have had opportunities to learn and reflect, and today I woke up doing so. Dare I admit that the first thoughts I had (it was early, and Jeff is still recovering from his laminectomy surgery and had a disturbed night..) were slightly questioning.
I feel sympathy for the people now mourning a dynamic and hugely loved and appreciated man, of course. If only half of all the things people are saying about The Duke of Edinburgh are true, he was a seriously special person. Deep respect to those who knew him, loved him, mourn him and will always miss him.
But am I wicked to wish that that phrase, repeated time and again, `a life of service` could be changed to `a life of service and being served?`
Privilege, Royal or otherwise, allows people to live without once in a lifetime needing to do the washing up, wash the kitchen floor, sort out old correspondence, phone the plumber, be the plumber, be a bread-winner, be a single parent, pay rent, collect rent, the list is endless. People of immense wealth simply live on a different planet, and that`s the truth of it. And Harry and Meghan, from what I have read, haven`t moved away from that kind of thing – they`ve just decided to live their privilege in Californian style.
Am I a serious republican, even on a day like today? No, not at all. Let the mourners mourn and be comforted, and let the Royal Family continue to serve and be served.
But when, I ask myself will I find an elected government that will do a little more to shift our society towards a slightly more equal and fair one? Serving charities over many decades is surely praiseworthy. But I do not buy the concept that helping thousands of charities is living an apolitical life. The number of charities that a society requires depends on its government and political system. Do I believe that the more just and fair a society is, the fewer charities it should need? At any rate, that`s what I woke up wondering this morning. And now to wash the kitchen floor.