Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #37

Out and about. visiting homes and doorknocking in my local government area, there is genuine and deep respect for the Queen. Many of the doors that opened to me revealed televisions firmly fixed on channels covering all the details of the preparations for her funeral and the retrospectives of a life well-lived. The ‘end of an era’ was the common theme.

Her constant presence from her image on our money, photos in the post office, in our passports will start to disappear and be replaced by her son. She has been a visible example of female leadership for generations and a women’s voice in the conversations with Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, decision-makers, community leaders. There is universal understanding that her presence was calm, considered, occasionally humorous and at all times dignified.

Like an archetypal mother she has presided over a very large dinner table and as matriarch to nations and her own family taken poll position at those tables. I am wondering how that place is now set?  As one era ends and new one begins, what will be the hallmarks of this era?

We know that the new King has a lifelong interest and advocacy around climate, food systems and drives an electric car, is a prolific writer of hand penned thank you letters to staff and volunteers, speaks out about architecture and design, preservation, conservation and supports and uses alternative medicine. These interests and experiences may well have prepared him for these times more than we might first imagine.

The balance of inheritance and acceptance of a legacy as we emerge into a world upon the fixed point of the person who has held the role in the past, is not an exclusive experience for the new monarch. In many ways it is a common ordinary experience, many of us find ourselves having to fit into someone else’s shoes. We pick up the pieces of what has been left behind and to quote a very British phrase, we carry one. We move to the next part of the common journey, but the path ahead is yet to be trod. That is our job to carry what we need to for the next phase, and we can also discard what doesn’t serve us as we go forward.  I expect this will be true for Charles III too. He will set aside what is no longer necessary or relevant for these times and find others might do the same to him and the role he occupies.  I am sure the republican movements in Britain and in Australia will leverage this moment.

The outpouring of love and grief that will become more visible as each day passes will also reveal the grief of certainty ending. Queen Elizabeth II was such a constant and binding figure, her death jars and disrupts that feeling of stability. While the British monarchy and all the forces around it will keep the foundations strong, individual lives have been disrupted, a family has lost a loved one. Communities and countries have caught their breath and taking stock of what it means to have lost a soverign and gained another all in one single breath out and breath in. The Queen is dead, long live the King – is a line in our vocabulary that is no longer in the history pages – having not been uttered since Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. It is such a complete expression of an unbroken thread.

When foundations are shaken, it takes a while for the dust to settle, and it doesn’t all land back in the same place it came from. I expect this will be true on this occasion too. This smooth transition of power, priviliege and influence from one generation to the next will unfold and I am curious to see how the British monarchy emerges and transforms as it arrives at a post-Elizabethan time.

Australian flag at half mast – Moana Surf Life Saving Club 10 September 2022

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