The Head on the Coins


I really couldn’t be bothered posting about the inevitable ascent this week of Liz Truss, fourth in a line of decreasingly appealing and increasingly appalling Conservative prime ministers, but I suppose I’d better mark the day when we woke up as subjects of Queen Elizabeth II and will go to bed as subjects of King Charles III. It’s my first experience of the death of a British monarch, and provided I stick around for the average lifespan won’t be my last.

As someone who actively took on British citizenship, I swore allegiance to the Queen, rather than just being born under her, eight years after voting to remove her as my home country’s head of state. I wasn’t too bothered by the former because of the failure of the latter; I was already her subject, and had been all my life, so what difference would it make?

I saw her from a distance at the closing ceremony of the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, and at much less of a distance when she was walking into St Giles Cathedral while I was taking one of my kids to nursery; and have poked my nose into her various homes at Holyrood, Balmoral and Windsor, as well as her former Royal Yacht Britannia. I’ve admired some of her art collection at the galleries at Holyrood and Buckingham Palace, and her jewels at the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle. For a lifelong republican, I’ve probably seen more royal piles and swag than I would have anticipated; but then I’ve also seen a lot of cathedrals.

I didn’t mind her as an individual; she fulfilled the role expected of her, and by all accounts had a wry sense of humour, and… well, what else can you say about such an ever-present part of the landscape. Like any Commonwealth citizen or British subject in the past seventy years, I carried her face around in my pocket and licked the back of her head countless times. Monarchy tastes of copper and glue.

While we in Britain await the next ten days of compulsory gloom, to be followed by the coming weeks, months and years of self-inflicted political and economic gloom, let’s enjoy the diverse television programming on offer here at times such as these.

UK TV after the death of the Queen

8 September 2022 · Events