Queen Mum Still Proving Herself

The gun carriage carrying the coffin of Britain's Queen Mother, accompanied by members of the Royal family, including Prince Charles, left foreground, Prince William, left center, The Duke of Kent, left rear, Prince Philip, center right, and Prince Harry, top right, starts its ceremonial procession to London's Westminster Hall, Friday, April 5, 2002.(AP Photo/Dave Caulkin) AP

Commentary from radio show host Simon Bates.

The chattering classes, our name for the educated, articulated intelligentsia of British society -- like the broadcasting bosses and the newspaper editors -- have got their comeuppance. History has taught them a lesson and they're pretty cross.

You see, when they heard the news of the Queen Mother's passing, they decided, between sips of good wine, that the death of a Queen of a hundred and one didn't really matter that much. After all, they sneered, she was just an old lady, a bundle of irrelevant memories of a vanished era. Yes, some older people who would care, but the most Britons would simply shrug their shoulders and think of whatever fashionable bright new dawn the media was promoting this week. So, on much of our media, The Queen Mother's death was downgraded to a news story about the passing of a high profile Royal. The Government even suggested that Her Majesty's lying in state be cut from four days to two. But then the crowds came. And they kept on growing.

Hundreds of thousands of them here in London, queuing in the cold for up to eight hours to walk past The Queen Mother's coffin. To pay their respects. Queuing even now for a spot to watch her funeral, which takes place in a few hours. So the broadcasters and the newspapers have had to grumpily change their tone and accept they got it wrong. But they still don't understand why. Why Republicans and Royalists, Catholics, Hindus and Jews can mourn the passing of a very regal, Church of England figure.

It's simple. Because, while there are some who would like to sweep history into a convenient trash can, real people come from real families with real memories. And we're all really celebrating what this country was and is, and the people who have fought to preserve it. One of our greatest Prime Ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, dismissed HIS generation of chatterers as talking "harebrained irresponsibility." He said that in 1878 and they're still doing it 124 years later.

CBS
  • Bob Bicknell

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