“This may be the last time we see such a sober and extraordinary show”said Monday, September 19 on franceinfo the journalist and writer Stéphane Bern, specialist in royalty, after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
>> Live on the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
“All these images will remain”, assures Stéphane Bern. The journalist found in particular “fascinating” to have seen “The union” of the royal family. The queen knew “to reunite a whole nation which was close to disunity”.
franceinfo: What highlight do you remember from this day?
Stephan Bern: There are several of them. There is obviously this crowd of anonymous massed on the passage of the procession of the mortal remains of the queen. It is the anonymous crowd that unites around this sovereign to thank her with gratitude for 70 years of service to the people and the British nation. And then also the 500 heads of state and government.
“Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, the Emperor of Japan and so many others, the entire Commonwealth together, the Governors General, the Prime Ministers of all the countries that form the dominions, that is to say the 15 states whose the queen was still the sovereign, like Canada, Australia, New Zealand. It was quite fascinating.”Stephane Bern
And there are perhaps more intimate things. The two great-grandchildren who embody continuity. And then, at the end, when we lead the queen to her final resting place, the two dogs, the two royal corgis who watch the body of their mistress pass and who are a little lonely. These are perhaps somewhat anecdotal images, others more profound. And then finally, the Lord Chamberlain who breaks his baton of office and places it on the coffin before he goes down to the crypt with the standard of the Queen’s grenadiers that King Charles III has placed on the coffin. All these images will remain. We will remember it in twenty years, in thirty years. Because I think it may be the last time we see such a sober and extraordinary show.
Was it a surprise to see so many people present at this funeral?
Yes, I was surprised to see so many people. I thought that the crowd would come en masse to greet the sovereign in the days that preceded. And we had 700,000 to a million people marching past his coffin at Westminster Hall, even though that day of the funeral was a public holiday. Despite the economic situation and the anxieties of the British, who will wake up tomorrow with the same worries, they were there to thank her, of all ages, of all situations, from all corners of the country. It was quite fascinating to see the union. This woman managed, beyond death, to reunite not only her family and her two grandsons who no longer spoke to each other, but to reunite an entire nation that was close to disunity.
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You mention the relations within the royal family. How did you find this king’s family?
I found her very worthy. But there aren’t many gestures of affection. We are there in a public representation of emotion. So everyone keeps their place. But the two brothers were present, they were side by side. Certainly, William was entitled to his uniform, Harry, Duke of Sussex, was not entitled to his uniform, like his uncle, the Duke of York, who has lost all reputation. But they were there. Maybe it’s a facade, maybe a temporary reconciliation, in the name of their grandmother who asked that he be there side by side the two of them. King Charles III made every effort. He knows that to reconcile the British nation which is a little divided, it is first necessary to reconcile his family. Who wants to reign over a State reigns first over his own.
Everything went off without a hitch. It’s rare enough to be reported.
It’s pretty crazy. I heard a lady in the street saying, we know how to do that. And it’s true that they know how to receive. They know how to do, that there is no crowd movement, no panic, that everyone respects their place, that the 500 heads of state respect the fact that the protocol is what it is. The Macron line up like everyone else. The Bidens are placed behind the President of Portugal to represent America. There is a whole art of receiving the whole world. And then for eleven days, the whole world had its eyes on London. So afterwards, we can be told that it cost three and a half million in security. But it paid off as much by the number of people who flocked to the UK capital, hotel bookings, for the UK economy. And then, above all, this ability to ensure that London becomes the world capital for eleven days. That’s really the power of a queen who had only a moral magisterium, a symbolic power. But what power, after all!