Friday, September 09, 2022

The Passing of Queen Elizabeth II

So last night it was announced that the Queen had suddenly passed away. I suppose this day was coming, she was 96 after all, but given her mother lived to 101 I kind of hoped she'd have a few more years yet. 

I was in a majlis when I first heard the news that she was ill. When it was reported that the Royal Family were rushing to Balmoral I knew it was bad. Sure enough, later that evening the announcement was made of her passing.

What was interesting was when the news broke the Qataris I was with in the majlis were pretty much, "She died? Oh, well she was pretty old I suppose". Not much else of a reaction.

Qatar was never ruled by Britian, nor ever conquered by them. One might argue the British certainly had a lot of influence and oversight in the region up until the 1970s, whether signing treaties with the various rulers, developing the oil and gas fields, or providing military assistance to help allies (for example Sultan Qaboos of Oman had their assistance to overthrow his father and become Sultan). The Emir of Qatar released a statement of condolence of course, both he and the Father Emir had met Her Majesty on a number of occasions, but for your average Qatari, while they all knew of Queen Elizabeth, the British monarchy was simply a distant thing, a country in Europe ruled by a Queen. Most Qataris don't have an in-depth understanding of the history of the British monarchy or its significance, but then again why would they? The passing of Queen Elizabeth has about as much bearing to a Qatari as the death of the Swedish monarch would have to a non-Swede.

So everyone continued with their evening, chatting or playing cards while a football match played on the television. Life moves on here.  

With her passing it is the end of an era. Who knows what it will be called in the end, we already have an 'Elizabethan Era' in the 16th century, maybe it'll be called the "modern Elizabethan" or the "second Elizabethan" or something. Not all British monarchs got an 'era' but Elizabeth II certainly will, and unlike the others I think this will be the first time an era will not be defined by a particular style. Clothing, furniture, buildings, mention the name of a particular era and a certain style will come to mind for each of those things. But for the 'second Elizabethan era'? This is an era that covers the 1950s until now, and not only is there no specific style for the time, the styles change so radically that they are not comparable to each other. The somber clothes of the 1950s, the wild styles of the 60s and 70s, the punk-and-pastel looks of the 80s, can any of these be said to be the quintessential style of the last 70 years? And the technological change during the last 70 years, and how society changed so much during that time, how will that figure in the era? When the Queen was coronated many Brits didn't even have a television, now everyone can get real-time video on mobile phones.

I am saddened at her passing of course but she did not have long left and death is the natural course of things. The tradition and ceremony for succession has been well-ingrained over the centuries and the next two weeks have been planned meticulously, everyone, including the now King Charles III, knows exactly what they need to do during this time.