A moment during Queen Elizabeth II's funeral. AFP
The Greatest Show on Earth

The Greatest Show on Earth


Monday's funeral was the final episode of the Queen Elizabeth II's mini-series


Friday, 23 September 2022, 14:35


I'd die for a funeral like that," said my friend on WhatsApp. Of course, me too. What a show. The British are the kings of monarchical marketing. The BBC can now claim to be top funeral broadcasters after converting Queen Elizabeth II's funeral honours into the year's best mini-series.

They deserve all the Baftas and several Emmys, especially the lead actors: a king and queen consort who were lovers during their previous marriages; a son stripped of his honours due to conduct as improper for a royal, as it is for a vassal; an heir to the throne whose premature baldness is going to be the least of his problems; a grandson who has renounced all his duties and none of his rights; an actress who wanted to live the life of a movie; and a Princess of Wales who looks so regal that she could have been born to reign, despite being a commoner. And I'm sure that our Spanish king and queen, emeritus and non emeritus, will get the award for best supporting actors in a drama series. What an ordeal.

Monday was the final episode. And it certainly didn't disappoint: the characters, the soundtrack, the photography (those zenithal shots in Westminster Abbey), the setting, the script; all designed so that images that will go down in history would be enjoyed in real time by an audience who crammed into cinemas, parks and function rooms around big and small screens to watch the funeral rites. A British Super Bowl which didn't need a performance by Beyoncé. Because they had the real queen already.

So, let's see who's the next person to die. Who is going to start their journey to eternity in a coffin set on a gun carriage (here in Spain thanks to this funeral we've learned the Spanish word 'armón de artillería'), just as we learned 'camerlengo' when Pope John Paul II died), pulled by 142 sailors from the Royal Navy. Who will have their own piper to play at their funeral. Who will be important enough to have their photograph substitute those of new houses in real estate windows.

Who can have a crown on their coffin, and an orb and sceptre. Who will make Big Ben's bell chime. And who has the power to bring together all the crowned heads, all the power, political and symbolic. It won't be me, of course. I'll be lucky if my local baker turns up to say the Lord's Prayer for me.

Elizabeth II, like El Cid, continues to win battles after her death: not only has she cast her long shadow over her son and family, but also over the rest of the European royal families.

On Monday morning, heads of protocol around the world were taking notes as a cold sweat crept up their spine. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.




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