Adam Thirlwell: ‘The disappearance of Elizabeth II is a major event in a convoluted British farce’

En Britain, everyone has their opinion of the monarchy. We are either for or against. In my case, I have always been against it. I’d rather it didn’t exist. I have the impression that it condemns this country to extract itself from reality. It is also true that here everyone has their opinion of the queen, as if it were possible to separate the question of the queen from that of the monarchy. It’s customary to say that, however intellectually you may resent the idea of ​​a monarchy, or be weary of the vicissitudes of the current royal family, the Queen was different – that she had a sense of duty, that she was thrifty, or charming, or surprisingly smart, or she had a wonderful sense of humor.

So I find it hard to imagine her dead, in London, where I am. His disappearance is a major event in this elaborate British farce, between power games and posture.

Read also the editorial of “Le Monde”: Elizabeth II, a sovereign woman goes down in history

All city bus stops display a black and white photo of the Queen. The XXL advertising screen that overlooks the underpass near Euston station, which usually sells us disposable fashion or perfume, offers the same. The digital banner surrounding the top of the BT tower is content, for its part, to display its name.

A craziness tinged with mysticism

What notoriety! But it has always been a notoriety of a particular kind. When I was born, she was already in her fifties. For me, she’s always been old, she’s always been a frozen image: fluorescent two-pieces that no one would dare to put on; an accent I’ve never heard anywhere else. This notoriety was also due to a form of distance and reserve – I observed this same reserve the times when, during official events, I met members of the royal family, such as the Queen Mother or the new Queen Consort. . Their charm is part of their absence.

All this allowed the British to melt the queen into a myth. Emmanuel Macron shared this myth with us in his tribute to him: “We will commemorate and perpetuate the values ​​that she never ceased to embody and promote: the moral force of democracy and freedom. »

Every Christmas, my grandfather and I bickered over whether we really should listen to his brief annual address on television. My grandfather was Jewish, he had fought for Britain in the Second World War, in North Africa and in Italy, and it pleased him to know that during the conflict the royal family had no fled the country. In other words, he, too, believed in this myth according to which the queen was a kind of totem that protected us from evil. His sense of belonging to this country was so strong that he did not understand that one could not feel affection for the sovereign or that one could stoop to talking about colonialism or big money about of the royal family. As a result, our Jewish family, at Christmas, split into two camps of madmen: the pro-monarchy and the anti-monarchy…

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Adam Thirlwell: ‘The disappearance of Elizabeth II is a major event in a convoluted British farce’