Well wasn’t that the funeral of all funerals?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks you’ve seen some scenes of Britain celebrating the monarchy with a spectacular funeral for Queen Elizabeth II.
Love her or hate her, she has been a component of Canadian life since most of us can remember.
I don’t know of a time when the Queen’s face was not all around me, from postage stamps to coins. Yes, I am old enough to remember singing God Save the Queen in school.
I do however wrestle with the question of what the monarchy means to us as Canadians. Why should we care about the Queen?
In the past two weeks she’s been praised for her grace, charm, diplomacy, dignity and love of Canada. She was a constant in a changing world, a steady guide and inspiration for many, yet, never was I more aware of the division between my generation and that of my children’s, than with the passing of the Queen.
Most young people, below age 40, could care less about the Queen or the British monarchy. They are becoming better educated, and thus angry about the devastating effects of colonialism on our First Nations.
They may remember Princess Diana’s tragic death, or feel outrage at the treatment of Meghan Markle, but for many, the monarchy is another oppressive institution, or worse, a bad soap opera.
For now the royal families extreme popularity remains. It is estimated 4.1 billion people tuned into the Queens’ funeral. I can say I was one of them, and I loved every minute of it.
In our western death phobic culture it was very unusual to see such intense collective public grieving. For many of us it reminded us of our own losses.
Unable to grieve publicly for the deaths of loved ones during the pandemic, here we were able to grieve with a family over the loss of their mother, grandmother and great grandmother.
I will remember Queen Elizabeth II as a woman of influence in a man’s world, and as a positive role model for women.
Her message of, “service before self”, is what I admire most about Queen Elizabeth II - a quality sadly lacking in today’s society. We need more of it.
May our youth come to understand her as someone who, while privileged, devoted herself to public life, because it was her duty to help others.
Ingrid Abbott is a freelance broadcaster and writer who tries to keep calm and carry on.