Back to reality: inflation and crisis in the UK

Offerings and tributes to Elizabeth II in Green Park, London / AFP

LONDON

After 12 days of solemn tributes to Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom returned to normal yesterday, with the end of national mourning and the return to reality of a country facing crisis and a changing monarchy.

The flags of the official buildings, at half-staff since the queen died on September 8 at the age of 96 at her Scottish residence in Balmoral, flew high again.

For almost two weeks, London and the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, were the scene of pompous ceremonies: from the proclamation of the new King Charles III to the solemn funeral procession that took the monarch to her final resting place in Windsor, where she was buried next to her parents and her husband.

Their traditional rituals and colorful medieval uniforms transported the country, and the world he watched hooked on television, back to an almost unreal time.

But although the British royal family will remain in mourning for seven more days, the national mourning decreed by the government ended yesterday.

London launched a gigantic clean-up operation after the “funeral of the century”, held at Westminster Abbey, and which brought together nearly a million people in the streets, according to police estimates.

Provisional data, on the other hand, estimated at “more than 250,000” the people “who passed through Parliament,” said the Minister of Culture, Michelle Donelan, to Sky News, referring to the burning chapel installed for five days in Westminster Hall, which he saw heartfelt expressions of emotion and long queues for tickets.

THE COST OF LIVING

After the end of the national mourning, the executive also resumes its activity.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, appointed by Elizabeth II just two days before her death, traveled to New York on Monday night to attend the UN General Assembly, where she will reaffirm Britain’s unwavering support for Russia-invaded Ukraine.

“Your security is our security,” he told the Ukrainians in a statement, pledging to match or exceed by 2023 the 2.3 million pounds ($2.6 million) in military aid promised to kyiv this year.

The new conservative leader, who succeeds the controversial Boris Johnson, must also seek solutions to the pressing crisis in the United Kingdom due to the cost of living.

His finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, will present an economic plan on Friday against the fallout from 9.9 percent inflation fueled by energy prices.

A small note delivered while speaking in Parliament on 8 September informed Truss of the queen’s condition. He interrupted the session and left, minutes after announcing a freeze on gas and electricity prices for two years, the cost of which he did not specify.

The heartfelt popular emotion for the disappearance of a monarch who after 70 years on the throne seemed almost eternal, left in suspense for a few days a social discontent that is now returning.

CHANGES IN THE MONARCHY?

Amid a global reexamination of the history of colonialism and slavery that has seen protesters tear down or deface statues in British cities and has seen universities such as Oxford and Cambridge change their course offerings, the institution that once it was the symbol of the British empire facing renewed scrutiny.

A train conductors’ strike, postponed after the death of Isabel II, will resume next week, threatening to plunge the country into chaos from October 1 to 5.

In addition, many are wondering about the cost of the grandiose state funeral that brought together hundreds of world leaders in London, from US President Joe Biden to Emperor Naruhito of Japan, and other tributes.

“It was money well spent,” Minister Donelan limited herself to saying, without specifying a figure.

With the arrival to the throne of Carlos III, 73, less popular than his mother but determined to modernize the monarchy, changes in the institution and its finances are expected.

Months ago he had announced his intention to limit himself, his spouse and the princes of Wales – William and Kate along with their three young children – a currently very extensive royal family, which multiplies spending and scandals.

No date yet, these and other modernizations will seek to reconquer some in a complex country, made up of four nations, three of which -Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales- saw the calls for independence driven by the death of Elizabeth II. (AFP and AP)

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