Citing sisterhood, feminism and her very womanhood itself played a substantial role in the humanizing of the Queen and the Royal Family these last two weeks. And fair play, learning the young Princess Elizabeth’s education all those decades ago was at a lower level a king-to-be might receive, and that many senior members of Government doubted a young mother could cope with the role of monarch, was interesting stuff and shows how much things have moved on. After all, the patriarchy uses misogyny as a weapon against women no matter the staus of our birth. And as a widow myself, her loneliness sitting in a pew on her own at her husband’s funeral – oft flashed up and referred to this month – and her speech on Christmas Day reflecting on her newly widowed status, resonated. But the Queen was not me nor another female of my class, no matter how The Firm tries to convince a woman of such immense privilege carried comparable burdens. ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’ is a quote popularized by the Queen and sums up the situation well, although notably she did not come to that conclusion herself despite the commonly held belief.

Female journalists on the telly didn’t have the pressure of finding something different to wear each day or big up hair and makeup after her death, something of a temporary feminist win. Still, the Queen’s lifetime of fashion and appearance was discussed, somewhat hilariously. A fashion editor insisted the late monarch’s dress sense was neither fashionable nor unfashionable so ended up being fashionable in the end. Got confused at that, but the Queen’s practice of wearing brighter colours so folk could see her, made sense. It also reminded of Elvis and his bling Nudie jumpsuits, how he chose them so fans in the cheap seats could make him out. I wonder which one of them thought of it first. And whether her eldest son Charles will follow the family tradition.

elvis jumpsuit back

The crowds queuing to see the Queen’s coffin over the weekend developed into a fandom-type community, references to when they ‘saw’ the Queen when living not unlike the way I gush about being made up about seeing a band I like. Mass consumption of anything and popular culture fandoms are essentially linked; from a concert to football match to standing in line for 20 odd hours in the cold overnight.  ‘First we’re going to see ABBA, grinned a woman and friends on a train to London, clinking plastic glasses brimful with Prosecco. ‘Then we’re going to join the queue!’ Spending time with likeminded wristbanded souls warms an experience, makes it precious, builds that party-like atmosphere. But it’s still back to the daily grind Monday through Friday.

The focus on the Queen’s death over the days has been exhaustive, the machine well-oiled and prepped in advance to convince we are them and they are we. The myth repeated as fact. How the public and Royals alike are united, this death has brought us all together. How we’re in a collective mourning, either for her or someone we knew. No angle has been too tenuous to work. One newsreader spoke of Anne Frank whom, he reported affably, had a photo of the then Princess Elizabeth pinned on the wall in the room in which she hid from the Nazis. Given that girls are socially conditioned to idealise the princess status and mythology, I’m going out on a limb here and say it wouldn’t have been unusual for a terrified girl to cling onto the hope of a dreamlike fantasy via a newspaper clipping. The reference to Frank’s coping methodology was crass. No mention was made of her subsequent death or the Royal Family’s relationship with the Third Reich. It spoils the fairytale. Unhappy endings do that. It’s not part of the message.

The Queen giving the new Prime Minister the nod just two days before she died is a dream to romantic notions of her dedication to us, the commoners, the little people, the worker bees, the subjects. The Queen was still working – hard, of course – hours before her death. But taking an alternative, woman-to-woman perspective, a 96-year old with swollen legs, medical canula-bruised hand, body swaddled in layers of clothes lest we see how thin she was, face slathered with makeup, receiving the leader of a political party for a photo op and formal meeting, is an uncomfortable thought. This cannot be held up as the ideal, or a good thing. The exhausting ongoing insistence women must be strong is unhelpful to us as a sex. Already instructed to be emotionally strong, constantly, we can’t work until we drop as well. This is especially the case for working-class women, bodies worn out by manual labour.

The wild fantasy that us the people and the Windsors have been united in grief this past fortnight is ridiculous. If the Windsors lived on Every Street, none of the neighbours would talk to them. A family where adultery is acceptable if not positively encouraged, a tradition; sexual peccadilloes and racism practised, payoffs to a victim of sexual abuse signed off.

The Queen insisted that the Royal Family will never outstay their welcome. When the public wants rid, she said, they will go quietly. But that’s not true, is it. Emotions and movements and feelings have been severely policed since 8 September. Restrictions boomeranged from comedic to sinister to unfathomable, and back again. The level of control was and is, unsettling. Football matches stopped that first weekend lest the attendees get lairy and loud and say what they really think. A new Prince of Wales was quickly installed without consultation of those who live in the country itself. Shakespeare’s grave was shut throughout the ten days, community tidy up projects, cycling and recycling schemes delayed. A press release in my inbox referring to the band Queen apologized for using the word itself. A woman in a spin class at a Bradford gym was told to wear red, white and blue or do ten burpees in repentence. Ann Summers shop window mannequins were clad in black wraps on Monday lest saucy undies offend the public gaze; a gay men’s sauna switched off porn and music but screened the funeral, creating a somewhat unique erotic scenario. On Monday we were, in effect, confined to our homes; bizarrely, British Cycling advised the public not to ride their pushbikes either. It was ok however to pay tribute to the Queen via the medium of Andy Warholian banana.

And yet, we’re sold the lie the death and surrounding events prove the Windsors move in time with a progressive society. The Princess Royal accompanied her mother’s coffin from Scotland, performing duties and roles previously denied to women, alongside her brothers. A sepia tinged Princess Elizabeth mucking in with the war effort emphasised her modernity. Photos rippling through social media of the Queen in more recent times delighting in a dress with pockets proved she was one of us. No. It does not. I want pockets in my frocks. I really do. I like to be independent, keep my hands free. Even though she had people to carry her stuff for her, maybe that was her ideal too. Who knows. In the pocket dress photos, she is smiling. Because of the pockets. Happy banter with the photographer. Or simply because she was in a good mood that day. But that does not make us the same. Or equal. The ten day plus period of mourning was long, and gave time to reflect on so much. But it was not the right time we were told, to discuss or challenge problematic issues around the monarchy or the rigidity of the class system it endorses, the way we have been manipuated this past fortnight. Leave that until afterwards. Well, it’s afterwards now. We’re all back at work and there’s no more queue. Maybe the time is the present. Because if not now, when?


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.