Why the royals are the epitome of normality

Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

It is hard to imagine life without the Queen.

Though most of us have never met her in person, let alone spoken to her, she is something so utterly integral to our nation: the golden thread silently presiding over us and holding us all together. Yes, sometimes we barely notice her at all, but there is always some faint background noise of pomp and ceremony which follows us in the money we spend, in the letters we post, and in the national celebrations we take part in. She stands for something which is true for the royal family as a whole: a dignity, graciousness, and calmness we all aspire to achieve.

The royal family must struggle, at times, to sustain this passive civility; though the Queen has cemented the royal figure as one of neutrality, this is a tough act to live up to, even if you have been brought up in the environment of such magnificent claustrophobia. We catch hints of the real human beings in series like The Crown or programmes like King Charles III, and the success of The King’s Speech is a testament to this revelation of the complexity and difficulty of living a royal life. The Queen has performed this role well, and continues to do so.

But the Queen is getting old.

We all worry about what will happen when she passes away. There have been news articles published about it, reports exploring precisely what will happen, to the smallest of details, when she passes away, and protocols of the changes of the next few months which have been released. Though such considerations are morbid in the extreme, the truth is that we will always take interest in such discussions, because are so flummoxed about what happens next. Like the inevitability of the clockwork rituals that will succeed her passing, we too need to feel prepared. We recognise that the shock of any celebrity death can suspend us in grief for weeks, though this, we know, will be far, far worse. Few British people can remember the last time a monarch died; even fewer were alive for it.

The reason, I think, why we feel so attached to the royal family, and to the Queen in particular, is because, to us, she resembles a loved one: she is the grandmother of the nation; the foundation of our society; the family heirloom on the mantelpiece. Even if sometimes we don’t notice her, she’s simply always been there, and we couldn’t bear it if she was gone.

And, in radio interviews and television specials, brief chats to the public, and glimpses of triviality, we get to see the real side of the royals; the side that shows they are, in fact, just like us. They are normal. Yes, this is a normality coated in thick, ruby-encrusted layers of golden privilege, hidden behind the thick muscle of endless security guards and the unbreakable bonds of the establishment – but still it is a normality we can recognise. Beneath all that opulence, Princess Charlotte will still go to school. Prince George will still be chastised by his mother for pulling faces at his aunt’s wedding. Prince Charles will still call the Queen “mummy”. And it is this normality that connects the royals and the people together: the Queen and her people together. 

And so, once the Queen does pass away, I think it will be very difficult for us to return to this normality. Yes, perhaps we will settle quickly into Charles's reign, but the normality of 65 years of one monarch's power will be hard to forget.

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