After all the miles of traveling by her coffin, days of mourning and remembrance, hours of queuing for hundreds of thousands of people wanting to pay their respects before her casket, England and the world farewell for the last time on Monday to Queen Elizabeth II. It was a moment of thanksgiving for what her son, King Charles III, had called good life. With solemnity, the funeral will be the resting place of something more than just the Queen’s personal life. For all the grief of the past few days, Britain may still miss its dead king more than it realizes.
Many people in England and in the other 14 kingdoms where Elizabeth is still head of state were amazed at the extent of their grief over her passing; even some Republicans greeted her. They were also surprised at the extent of the response around the world. Countries as far away as Brazil and Cuba – which have no direct contact with the British monarchy – have held days of mourning. French President Emmanuel Macron summed up the global response by noting: “For you, she is your Queen. To us, she is the Queen. “
A glance at the funeral guest list gives an idea of soft power Queen Elizabeth helped her country to the project. The 2,000 invitees include a list of monarchs from Belgium to Bhutan, elected leaders and ceremonial heads of state. By some estimates, more than 4 billion viewers could watch the funeral globally, which, if achieved, would make it the most watched live broadcast in history.
King Charles will inherit great goodwill and a worldwide network from the decades he has spent preparing follow in his mother’s footsteps. He will bring to the role his own qualities and commitment to service. But appreciation for a seven-decade-long monarch who personified “global Britain” was a moment for the government to reflect that no one could compete with the soft power levels of She and that a post-imperial and post-Brexit UK needs to find and nurture other sources.
For the world as a whole, the Queen’s departure represents the turning of a page in history in a broader sense. Her extraordinary reign was in many ways the product of a unique fusion of circumstances. She took the throne of an empire that is still an empire, even as it is being torn down and transformed into a commonwealth. She joined at an unexpectedly young age, and was shown to live remarkably long. The beginning of her reign coincided with the beginning of the era of global mass media, her coronation becoming the first major televised event.
The Queen inspired immediate interest and affection as a source of glamor in a country still living through the austerity of the postwar era, and as a young female leader. in a world still dominated by older men. Over time, she has used the platform she was given not only to become an outstanding symbol and representative of her country, but also to express her personal values of duty, service, and loyalty. Kindness has proven to have international appeal.
The weakening of monarchies around the world and the passing of the imperial era will make such conditions difficult to reunite. The diffusion of mass media, and the rise of social media, have altered the image of fame. Modern societies have little respect for power, royal or not. There will be many other globally televised moments – including King Charles’ coronation – and farewells to world leaders. But the Queen’s rest could be one of the last major royal funerals, marking the end of perhaps one of the last royal dynasties anywhere to gain true global resonance. so.