Not much to see in the news today

It’s all “the Queen is dead”, over and over again. I don’t care. Time to move on.

The news comes in two categories:

  1. Tradition is broken! One aspect of the world is changed. I will now wax sentimental over what the Queen represented (omitting the awkward bits, of course), and moan about how the world was better during her reign and we must return to the values of the 1940s and ’50s.
  2. A wealthy white woman represented the legacy of imperialism and colonialism, and now she’s dead, can we return the loot her system stole back to their home countries? What? She’s going to be replaced by a wealthy white man? Oh nawww no. Look at all those wealthy conservatives crying.

#2 is not getting printed in the pages of the big name newspapers, but oh boy are the powers that be having a wonderful time with #1, mourning a tiny and inevitable change that doesn’t really affect their status. They’ve got an excuse to wallow in sanctimony! Go ahead, guys, take your moment, but can we get it over with soon? We’ve got things that matter to get done. Swapping figureheads for an immoral system isn’t one of them.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment this morning, and a couple of appointments with students, and a lecture to give, and some lab prep to do, so I’m a bit relieved that there’s so little of interest to distract me today.

The Queen is dead. My regrets to those who cared about her. Call me when the monarchy is dead, OK?

All the essential stuff was already written long before her death. Take it away, Patrick Freyne in the Irish Times:

Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

Beyond this, it’s the stuff of children’s stories. Having a queen as head of state is like having a pirate or a mermaid or Ewok as head of state. What’s the logic? Bees have queens, but the queen bee lays all of the eggs in the hive. The queen of the Britons has laid just four British eggs, and one of those is the sweatless creep Prince Andrew, so it’s hardly deserving of applause.

That’s from March 2021. It’s all that needs to be said.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    The headlines on the Google news feed are mostly the same: the queen is dead, occasional mention of her successor, with one glaring exception:
    on FauxNews:

    Rev. Franklin Graham reacts to Queen Elizabeth’s passing: ‘True friend of Christian faith’

    That’s a Trumpian display of self-involvement there. Whose first reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth is to check in and see what Franklin Graham thinks?

  2. KG says

    Oh, didn’t you hear?
    Putin has withdrawn his troops from Ukraine “as a mark of respect to the Queen”.
    Gas prices have fallen 80% “as a mark of respect to the Queen”.
    The floods in Pakistan have receded “as a mark of respect to the Queen”.
    Donald Trump has admitted he shouldn’t have taken those documents from the White House… OK, OK, I admit it, that one’s just too far-fetched!

  3. leovigild says

    As one wag wrote in response to the above:

    “Of course, there was that one time the neighbors decided all of the clown stuff was evil and stupid, and burned all of their decorations and costumes, and even killed a clown to make their point. They then went on to kill another of your grandparents and a couple of your cousins. Perhaps the clowns weren’t the source of the problem after all.”

  4. cartomancer says

    I used to be genuinely puzzled at these outpourings of “national grief”. It first came to my attention when I was 13 and the whole Princess Diana farrago happened. How could anyone feel that strongly about someone they had never met or known?
    Why were so many people making performative gestures of exaggerated emotion for a posh woman off the telly? I really couldn’t understand it

    That was a long time ago, and I think I understand it now. This is a product of careful media manipulation and stage-management going back at least a century. From the invention of photography onward (probably even from the invention of newspapers, but the early Twentieth Century was when it really started) the British monarchy had to project an image to remain relevant and respected. Before this they were effectively isolated from the ordinary people, and had little need to project power and image on a grand scale. Now they had to normalise the idea that they were necessary, that it would not do to question their necessity, and, in fact, that you really shouldn’t think too hard about them at all. You should just defer to tradition and let them be. The attitudes we see and the outpourings we shudder at are in no way some unforeseen and random quirk – they are the result of generations of deliberate brainwashing and propaganda. Everything from the lavish gold carriages to the annual Christmas speeches to the pageantry of royal weddings and funerals is calculated to hoodwink ordinary people into thinking there must be something special about the royals. The national media is entirely complicit. Much of the world media is too.

    Given that we’ve been swimming in this sludge of propaganda for generations, is it any wonder we see distasteful spectacles like this?

  5. SchreiberBike says

    I’ve been trying to start a betting pool on how many nations will be in the Commonwealth realm in five years; there are now 15 members. I don’t see the UK (probably without Scotland by then) giving it up, but I see Australia throwing off the yoke. Canada and New Zealand are probably ready to move on, but I’m not sure about the others. Anybody want to put some (figurative) money down?

  6. says

    My favourite thing is somehow we’re supposed to keep the deep feelings of the English in mind at this difficult time. Sorry, no.

    SchreiberBike @7
    This Canadian anti-monarchist (oh how I wish the Republicans hadn’t poisoned an otherwise perfectly good word) is, but I’m a minority in the English-speaking part of the country. I made a comment regarding the Governor General making a statement about Canadians mourning about how she forgot about Quebec’s existence and it didn’t take long for someone to get angry with me.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    I thought one of the terms of Brexit was that the royal family would go back to Germany…

  8. says

    Reginald Selkirk@1 You’d think Graham would realise the kind of Christianity she was raised in thinks his brand of evangelical Christianity is a load of incoherent nonsense.

    SchreiberBike@7, I’m not sure what you think Canada is ready to move on from, but there’s not much interest here in changing the status quo.

  9. phoenix3 says

    @Schreiber bike – There 54 independent countries who are members of the Commonwealth. In 1952, when she became Queen there were 7 – Do your research before gobbing off

  10. larpar says

    To put the fun into funeral, it will be fun to watch Trump get snubbed for the funeral, or make an ass of himself if he somehow does get an invite.

  11. whheydt says

    Re: timgueguen @ #11…
    I wouldn’t bet on Charles lasting 20 years. He’ll be 74 next month and doesn’t look all that well. If he makes it past 10 years I will be somewhat surprised.

  12. says

    The thought came to mind of Trump actually being invited, and told he will be allowed a personal look directly at the coffin. He’s the most ultra extra special person EVAH! after all. When he bends over what is actually an empty coffin they shove him in and don’t let him out.

  13. lakitha tolbert says

    #12 SC (Salty Current):
    Yeah, Black Twitter has been roasting the hell outta her for the past 24 hours.

  14. says

    timgueguen @ #10:

    Reginald Selkirk@1 You’d think Graham would realise the kind of Christianity she was raised in thinks his brand of evangelical Christianity is a load of incoherent nonsense.

    I’ve only seen three or four episodes of The Crown (they were all quite good – I’m just constitutionally averse to and uninterested in royals), but the first one I saw – recommended by a friend who knew I’d be interested in the specific history – was S2 E6 “Vergangenheit.” One of the storylines concerned the beginning of her friendship with Billy Graham, which evidently was long lasting and rested on shared religious sentiments.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    Norway is a monarchy. It sits on an enormous oil money fund for future generations. It has a mixed economy with subsidized health care and free education.
    If you like monarchies, you really should start the emigration process right now.
    Sweden is also nice but we have this big xenophobia populist party that has grown bigger than its relatives in neighboring countries. Also, cold.
    Maybe you should ask Republicans in gerrymandered districts to move to Denmark? They get a royal family, you get more Democrat victories.

  16. says

    The US has a similar problem. We don’t have kings & queens to make a fuss over, but one huge difference between this country and others I’ve visited is … flags. Americans are bonkers for flags. Flags everywhere, and the bigger the better. We’re supposed to pledge allegiance to a flag, show respect for a piece of cloth, and if we don’t fold it just right or fly it at the right time, there will be some old bugger who will scream at you with religious fervor. Hate it.

  17. robro says

    Just saw this in a meme: “Can’t believe they are going to make a MAN queen. This woke nonsense has gone too far.”

  18. ardipithecus says

    I’m not a fan of the monarchy, but I would rather have a figurative authoritarian like in a constitutional monarchy than a real authoritarian like Trump or Putin. Some people want authority figures to worship; figureheads provide at least some outlet for them.

  19. Bruce Fuentes says

    This was posted on a forum I belong to. The author is from Birmingham, UK.

    At this time, we are hearing a huge amount in this Country about the nation’s grief, Elizabeth’s service, and her status in the world. It’s pretty much the only message which is broadcast by the media, and given the feelings of a lot of people in this Country, I get it.

    Elizabeth was a decent, kind, dutiful and caring soul, from what little I know of her, with a sense of mischief. I regret her passing – and I agree that she carried out her duties consistently and to the end.

    But I wanted to give this some perspective.

    First off, Elizabeth was a decent human being – just the same as any other decent human being. I regret her passing to precisely the same degree as I regret the passing of any other decent human being. In my eyes, she is no more and no less than any other decent person on this planet. We have to move away from according certain people higher status, simply because of the accident of their birth.

    And in that regard, we have to acknowledge also the vast privilege which was given to her by her birth, and is indeed given every year by the British tax payer (£86.3m last year, apparently). I have no problem with the media repeating their references to her service, but we should at some point also acknowledge what was given to Elizabeth out of our pockets, and as a result of her being born to a family which produces the head of state every time and which lives in luxurious castles and is waited on by a vast staff of servants.

    The standard response from a royalist when you mention the privilege they enjoy is to shout even louder about their service, but you should compare that service (being chauffeured to events, having polite conversations with people, eating wonderfully prepared meals), with the service given by charity workers, nurses, policemen, firemen, teachers and numerous other kind people in this Country, who work day in day out to help other people.

    And their service is hard. They deal with misery and tragedy and heartache on a daily basis – they roll their sleeves up and help people – they suffer abuse, but they keep going – they do all they can to make other peoples’ lives better. And their rewards are a gnat’s whisker when weighed against the sheer weight of privilege and status which is given to the royal family.

    So yes, I regret Elizabeth’s passing, in the same way as I regret the passing of any other decent human being. But please let us remember, that when we talk as much as is being talked about her service, to balance that against the level of service which other people give to their communities, and the size of the reward those people get, when compared to what is handed on a silver platter to the royal family.

    Rest in peace Elizabeth – but rest in peace too every single other decent human being who has passed and who didn’t have the privilege to occupy every single front page and every single media outlet for the next month. You are all equal in my eyes.

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    For those interested in wall to wall royals coverage, recently added a bunch of material to their stocks with that theme. They also added a big pile of UFO conspiracy stuff as well.

  21. Bruce Fuentes says

    #13 to be fair. The vast majority became commonwealth states after they achieved independence during her rule. It is not like they were recruited.

  22. SchreiberBike says

    #13 phoenix3, Not the Commonwealth of Nations, but the Commonwealth realm. The countries who still list the queen or king of the United Kingdom as their sovereign.

  23. Rich Woods says

    @timgueguen #18:

    The thought came to mind of Trump actually being invited … When he bends over what is actually an empty coffin they shove him in and don’t let him out.

    No need to let him get that close to anyone’s catafalque: we have a shit-tonne of castles still fully equipped with dungeons. He might be a bit big to simply drop into an oubliette, though.

  24. Ridana says

    23 @PZ: The Danes are apparently pretty obsessed with their flag and rules around their flag. Just in a different way than Americans are.
    The pig illustrated is the Husum Red Pied, or the Danish Protest Pig. The comments are interesting, with many Danes weighing in on the topic.

  25. says

    Having gone up to see the Royal Horse Artillery’s gun salute – an amazing event at any time – I mooched along to the Palace. There were people, a two or three carrying flowers, but it felt like one of those days when they close The Mall and everyone just wanders around. Zillions of cops, all in an usually good – it’s not a bad shift! – and lots and lots of media crews. I don’t get the sense there or back in the suburbs of national grief. It’s like the day after Diana died. In a day or two, when the constant media coverage grinds people down, people will start to feel it and there will be hundreds of thousands of very public mourners.

    In other news, we get the benefit of Truss’s new energy cap but she doesn’t get any PR for it. It will be interesting to see how the soulless Liz manages the competition from more articulate and / or empathetic politicians.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    So there is a commonwealth and another super-commonwealth , the latter of which has Cheated-on-Diana as nominal boss?

  27. birgerjohansson says

    The new King has promised to rule with “Loyalty, Respect and Love”, the three demons he got to borrow from Gozer after sacrificing Diana to him.

  28. birgerjohansson says

    Jim Jeffries is good at explaining things. I have not followed him- has he any sketch where he explains royalty, or the commonwealth? (Be advised, half the words will be %#@☆ )

  29. gijoel says

    @38 The “women’s” magazines in Oz have been relentless in their campaign against Meghan. Laughably stupid, photo-shopped covers of ERII crying that Harry won’t come home, or Our Kate giving Harry a good talking to. They’re desperate to portray her some kind of Svengali who has forced Harry away from his family.

    Meanwhile sweaty Prince Andrew lives a quiet life in the lap of luxury never having to fear the day that he may have to answer some serious question in court. The hypocrisy of tabloids makes me gag.

  30. rietpluim says

    Elizabeth was an evil woman whose riches were built on colonialism and slavery, and who caused horrendous suffering everywhere around the world. If there is a heaven, I doubt she is there now, unless God is as wicked as conservative Christians like to believe He is.

  31. rietpluim says

    Re: flags. I’ve never been into nationalistic symbolism, but I had a change of heart now the alt-right is disfiguring our country with countless flags hanging upside-down, symbolizing “everything that is wrong in our country” not seeing the irony.

  32. Louis says

    You can all sneer at the pomp, ceremony, inequality, and symbolism of this historic royal event if you like, but if King Charles (not the spaniel) sees his shadow today we get 10 more years of Tories.*

    Fuck that.

    This is SRS BSNS.


    *Probably. Isn’t that how this works?

  33. unclefrogy says

    wow all I can say is wow. I know it is rather soon but still.
    The amount of cheery picking that going on in pro and con not surprising I guess.
    She did her best I guess most of the time but there was a legacy she was a part of that was not humanity at its best. for all that she took her fate and lived her duty and died in her old age without too much damage to her reputation and much respect around the world made out OK in a rather difficult position. The commonwealth of nations or what ever it is called has some benefits for all involved in trade, investment and immigration. Would be a shame if it went the way of Brexit out of resentment and spite. I think anything that can bring peoples and nations together by means other then conquest is probably a good thing and like any other relationship needs to grow and change from time to time.
    The big problem with Monarchy is that it perpetuates and reinforces hierarchal divisions in the population it is the epitome of class division makes a society built on self-rule and the rule of law much more difficult

  34. StevoR says

    @40. gijoel : Not just the tabloids . Here in Oz there is nothing on a number of TV channels including the (for decades white-anted, underfunded and stacked by the radical conservatives regressives LNP) ABC but hagiographic programming uncritical and without much if any balance at all. For a second day in a row & with no sign of ending and becoming more rational, balanced or proportionate. A lot of people here – myself included – who are not big fans of Britain’s Royals or Monarchies in general are heartily sick of it and deeply hoping that it stops soon and normal programming resumes.

  35. hemidactylus says

    Forget the royalty thing. This just in…Jason Momoa has cut off his hair!!!!

    More important than the royals because:

    “Shaving off the hair,” he declares. “Doing it for single-use plastics. I’m tired of these plastic bottles, we gotta stop. Plastic forks, all that s—t. S—t goes into our land, goes into our ocean. … The things in our ocean, it’s just so sad. So, please, anything you can do to eliminate single-use plastics in your life. Help me.”

  36. says

    I’m still giggling at “King Charles (not the spaniel)” from #43.

    MSNBC hasn’t been able to tear itself away from royal-watching today. My phone is pinging with constant alerts about silly proclamations. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians have liberated Kupyansk and Izyum.

  37. blf says

    rietpluim@31, Exactly!

    Related: I’ve never been as ANGRY at the Grauniad as I am right now… seemingly nothing (an exaggeration) but screen-edge to screen-edge blathering about the hereditary dictatorship. For fecks sake, besides an obituary and speculation / explanations about the new dictator, essentially just one article would have sufficed: Horrible person dies, usual suspects gleefully insist on greater repression.

  38. blf says

    SC, “and Izyum”… I know the situation is fast-moving, but if true, that is astonishing! Kupyansk was quickly identified (by outsider observers) as a prime goal once the breakout success was apparent, which would challenge the invaders not only in Izyum but throughout the entire area (Kupyansk being a critical transport hub for the area), but a salient towards Izyum is a surprise (as far as I know), albeit the entire breakout was a (public, at least) surprise.

    Moving back slightly to on-topic (for this thread): Your point is well-taken, what is happening-to, and -in, Ukraine, is far more important both now and in the future than the undemocratic installation of yet another hereditary dictator. The demise of the former dictator is newsworthy, but not the current volume of (often fawning) content.

  39. says

    blf @ #50 (nice to see you!), it’s really sounding like – and I’ve seen this word several times this morning – a collapse of that whole segment of the Russian front. The wording of the reports today is all “Russian forces have left” or “Russian forces have fled.” It’s astonishing.

  40. says

    I have a map up to follow what’s said to be happening. To get a sense: towns Ukrainian forces are reported to be “attacking” or from which Russian forces are reported to have “fled” include Vovchansk, Svatove, and Lysychansk.

  41. says

    Cross-posted with the Infinite Thread – from the Guardian liveblog:

    Russia confirms Izyum retreat

    The Russian ministry of defence has confirmed the retreat of Russian forces from both Izyum and Balakliya.

    In a statement published by state media outlet RIA Novosti, the ministry claimed a decision had been made to “regroup the Russian troops stationed in the Balakliya and Izyum regions” and “step up efforts in Donetsk” so as to “achieve the stated goals of the special military operation” and “liberate” the Donbass.

    It also claimed that a number of “distraction and demonstration events” had been staged in order to conceal the “real actions of the troops” and allow the withdrawal.

  42. says

    Illia Ponomarenko just tweeted: “Today is one of the greatest days in modern history.” Right now, MSNBC is breathlessly reporting “Queen’s death brings royal family together amid rift.” CNN: “Canada proclaims Charles III new sovereign.”

  43. John Morales says

    In the news today (here in Oz — no, not that Oz!):

    For me, two salient bits:

    The Governor-General was welcomed with a smoking ceremony and welcome to country by Ngunnawal elder Aunty Violet Sheridan before the Australian national anthem was played.

    “No matter what your views, Queen Elizabeth lived a life of service, and she also was also a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother ,” Aunty Sheridan said.”

    and (my emphasis)

    “Your loyalty to our King and your service to Australia through your work in the parliament will assist our country to build on the successes of the second Elizabethan age.

    So, not much to see. ;)

  44. StevoR says

    @57. jrkrideau : is that why you are such a fan of Putin’s dictatorship & quest to restore the Russian empire?

    Why do you think Republics would be bad? Some admittedly are but many are fine eg. most of the non-monarchies in Europe.