Tandem Regina Mortua
31 January 2023
Tandem Regina Mortua (At Last, the Queen Died)
The frothy surf of media guff is slowly ebbing
on its receding tide of feigned sincerity
leaving a beached society exposed by
the shallow waves of sentimentality.
She looked like a little porcelain statue
in the end, shiny and polished and strained,
the mouth stretched in a painful smile,
her face, pleated with lines, quite drained.
A little old lady lost on a lonely island,
on her own stubborn fortitude stranded,
propped up by custom and empty convention,
performing the rituals her people demanded.
They should have let her go long before this
and when her old man died bade her good night,
let her sleep in and calmly avoid those daylight duties.
If she was a boxer, they’d have stopped the fight.
But it was her whole life, wasn’t it, to persist
in the public performance of outmoded gestures,
couldn’t stop in the end propped up on a stick
mouthing tired words at pointless investitures.
So now she’s gone. Lying down one last time alone.
The expectations of the kingdom still loomed to torture her
but she has slipped away adrift on a cloud of exhaustion.
Elizabeth can finally rest. Tandem regina mortua.
I think that there is a strange ambivalence and dichotomy about the monarchy.
It is, after all, just a vestige of a past long gone.
No-one with a functioning intellect can now seriously believe that certain people are, by an accident of birth, somehow superior to other folk, although many still cling tenaciously to this idea.
This belief was for centuries the basis of monarchy, aristocracy and the notion of class, not to mention that old favourite, racism.
Underpinning this thinking was the idea that a certain class of people had a natural or God-given right to rule over the rest.
All that said, there is a certain glamour attached to monarchy, surrounded as it is by rituals and customs and practices that collectively anchor it within the national psyche of Britain and other places as well.
The late Queen, a stalwart servant of monarchy, understood this dichotomy very well, and I think that the current King does too.
So, I think that it will linger on for a good while yet, an ancient institution largely now devoid of power or influence, yet still strangely fascinating.
Posted by: Chris Overland | 01 February 2023 at 12:44 PM
Yes, gone to meet with her first love, the King, and rejoin others of that family. Her legacy, as of others, to be misused, used, abused and occasionally respected.
Posted by: Will the Dobbie | 31 January 2023 at 10:18 AM
Another branch of the parasitic vine that is the monarchy withers, dies and falls to the ground.
Perhaps the vast wealth she maintained drove her on?
The sooner the rest of them go the better.
Nevertheless, a fine poem, nice balanced.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 31 January 2023 at 09:24 AM