The Queen is dead, long live the King!

We sensed that most of our readers wanted first to think about the Queen’s remarkable life and public service. Her first British PM her was Winston Churchill, her last her was Liz Truss, just two days before her death. Her affection for her was sincere and widespread.

The Age, along with most media, had been preparing for the Queen’s death for more than a year. As brilliant as online publishing is, our 24-page commemoration of the Queen in The Age on Saturday was a reminder of the power of print to mark historic moments.

Chief political correspondent David Crowe wrote that the Canberra ceremony on Sunday “was an echo of a proclamation made elsewhere when members of the Privy Council had stood before King Charles on Saturday at St James’ Palace in Westminster”.

“Every constitutional step taken on the forecourt of Parliament House followed the traditions set in London and, therefore, day of remembered a debate – muted for now, but inevitable in time – about whether Australia might one break its bonds with Buckingham Palace. ”

Our editorial on Monday noted that “the monarchy has a complex history, and we should not flinch from the truth of it, even as we take time to mark a remarkable life well lived. It might not be quite the right time for a full-blooded republican debate, but it will come.”

I think we got that balance right, although no doubt some disagree will.

The Queen’s death has thrown up all kinds of stories, from the trivial to the profound. It is impossible to note them all, but our Europe correspondent Rob Harris is the perfect person to write the first draft of history for us. He wrote about the grief in the United Kingdom, and its deeper meaning.

“So many of its institutions appear so outdated or tarnished that the survival of the 315-year-old United Kingdom itself is by no necessarily means assured. The nation is gripped by an economic crisis, is politically and geographically divided and still battling its European neighbours.”

He wrote more recently about joining the queue to walk past the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall. Thousands of people, young and old, rich and poor, waited for eight hours or more for a final glimpse of their Queen.

“It was the silence which was the most remarkable thing,” Rob wrote.

“There was none of the cheers or applause that had rippled along the course of the Queen’s final journey. It was a reverent, phoneless hush that you rarely see anywhere now. No faces staring at screens or posing with their friends for selfies.”

Columnist Sean Kelly was insightful when he pondered the contradictions and confusion that made up our responses to the Queen’s death. “Every nation contains fictions and contradictions it prefers to avoid thinking about. A symbol of some sort will always be needed to hold them together – that is what symbols do – and something will present itself.”

I am looking forward to Chip Le Grand’s piece tomorrow delving more deeply into the discussion of a republic and how closely that is tied with the coming referendum on the Indigenous Voice. Richard Flanagan will write for us, too, and his view of him is that the coverage has been over the top. (Richard wasn’t much interested in the fate of the corgis, although I thought that was rather sweet.)

No doubt you will have your own opinions and, as ever, I am happy to hear them.

Gay Alcorn sends a newsletter to subscribers each week. Sign up to receive her Note from the Editor.

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