I suppose for the rest of my life I will be able to say I was in London at the time of the Queen’s funeral. I’m sure it will make quite a talking point!
Actually I was there for my work with drug and alcohol dependent people. Also to continue developing my special school for needy kids in the London burrough of Tower Hamlets. I am doing this in the memory of my own father, who with his single mum struggled during the Great Depression. However none of this will be anywhere near as intriguing as talking about “Her Majesty’s funeral”.
Central London was crawling with people for the Queen’s funeral. Hundreds of thousands of them converged on it. The crowds of people in Trafalgar Square blew me away. The barricades were out, fixing where people could and could not walk. I really felt like an ant in an ant’s nest. Everyone scurrying around thither and yon, but everyone kept calm and carried on.
Me, a monastery and a funeral
I watched the funeral in a monastery where I stay whenever I visit London. There we where, all the monks and I, glued to the television.
What to make of it? Well, my family came from Britain and my grandmother regarded the Royal Family as an extension of our own, or maybe the other way round! I’m sure my sister, brother and I, along with Prince Charles and Princess Anne were all seen with a similarly jaundiced eye.
It was particularly moving for me to see Prince Charles mourning his mother. Why did the funeral affect me so much? In Australia I’m a Republican and proud of it, but in Britain I felt the ties that oddly bind mine and that family.
On the other hand, I also feel for our indigenous brothers and sisters who suffered so much because of colonisation. If truth be told they still suffer from the evils of that epoch. Their suffering is all our suffering and until we come to terms with that we will never get anywhere.
Mourning lost dreams
Yet there I was, a long way from home mourning lost dreams. I felt the ghost of Diana too.
In an era of social media and insecurity, with an emphasis on the cult of individuality, I think we long for a sense of stability and connection. The Queen has been there for most of our lives. She opened and closed things and smiled while doing it. With a smile she also put up with problems in her own family, like we all do. She was always there. Now though, she isn’t.
The world and we will go on, but for a little while we are faced with our impermanence and we don’t like it.
So, in our insecurity we all came together to share the Queen’s funeral with the Royal Family, and convince ourselves all is okay. God may save the King, but perhaps some kind of saving is what we’re all seeking in this crazy world.