Mourning The Queen Mum

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BBC
Commentary by Radio Show Host Simon Bates

At the time when her husband was King, the Queen Mother wasn't just his Queen, she was Queen Empress. Queen Empress, the phrase reeks of Empire. Born when Queen Victoria was on the throne, it is staggering to think that she and King George ruled, for a time, more than a fifth of the world's population. But when she passed away on Saturday, there was certainly a sense of sorrow at the death of a lady who had long outlived her allotted span. A sense of loss perhaps, from those who remember the Second World War, and the role as figurehead that she then represented. And certainly sympathy for the present Queen and her loneliness, after losing both her mother and her sister within a few weeks. But from the younger generation of Britons, a kind of polite apathy.

For most of them, the heroism of Empire and the Second World War is as mysterious as the Korean War is to the same generation of young Americans. So, while sorrow for the loss of the Queen Mother has been expressed, there hasn't been the outpouring of grief that followed the death of Princess Diana. And neither will there be. But watch the way things change, watch as the public mood changes over the next eight days as we prepare for the funeral. And a last pride in the best of Great Britain is shared by all generations. A week tomorrow, early in the morning, the Mounted Household Cavalry will set out, along with other units of the British army, in full dress, to take The Queen Mother's coffin to Westminster Abbey, before its internment at Windsor. The streets will be packed. The great and the good from around the world will attend. It will be a spectacular procession and a magnificent ceremony and it will be unmissable. A final wave from Imperial Britain, lost and forgotten to all but the older generations here, to the world.