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Queenly Saturation

Turn on the television. Move to the screen. Switch on the device – if you ever left it off. Queen Elizabeth II may have passed, but she is everywhere in very lively fashion, a spectral manifestation that has utterly controlled large chunks of a transfixed global media system.

It helps that she has captured the media mecca that is the United States, where anything outside its coverage is either, in self-described terms, irrelevant or non-existent. In the centre of the imperium, without a shade of irony, she and the British royal family have exercised a spiritual and celluloid existence almost abnormal in spread. Dramas of aristocratic themes such as Downton Abbey and The Crown captivate. Royal weddings prove to be absorbing spectacles, as do funerals. “I was here [in Washington] in 1997 when Princess Diana died,” retired British diplomat, Roy Forey, told the Financial Times. “At the time you couldn’t even walk on this street, it was so full of flowers.”

States of class, inequality and hereditary systems of rule are almost titillating, a reminder that the American Revolution was less radical than a revolt begun reluctantly by aristocratic, plantation owning slavers. Indeed, Britain’s royal institutions, in many ways, were reconstituted and applied to the rough timber of US expansion in the form of a Republic. The batons of empire were changed, but the purpose remained the same.

The Queen’s death stopped, briefly, trading on Wall Street, with the New York Stock Exchange in solemn observance after 3pm. In sporting terms, the US Open women’s semi-final between Ons Jabeur and Caroline Garcia was similarly delayed in respect, though one sports reporter promised tennis fans that the rest of the tournament would continue being broadcast on UK television.

More understandable, if barely, was to see coverage block and stifle all else before in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, itself still subject to British constitutional rule. The Australian constitution, in the wisdom of its drafters, lacks any mention of an independent prime minister or cabinet; the Governor-General remains the British sovereign’s representative down under. Reference is made, almost cursorily, to an amorphous Federal Executive Council.

In Australia, Pakistan’s catastrophic floods, the dangers of radiation spread from the Zaporizhzhia plant, and Ukrainian offensives against Russian forces were filed away in the less relevant news item file. The world, because Britain is, for those in Britain and its historically subject entities, The World, took centre stage, blocking the sun and replacing it with ticker tape announcements about ceremony and prevailing banality.

In the darkest of shades, Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, delivered a pointed reminder that the memorialisation of the Queen’s passing was itself a misdirection among many, be they about soft power tourism, industrious royals or a firm constitutional defender. “Platitude, myth, and sentimentality get in the way of a desperately needed challenge to inherited power and wealth, the significant failings of the royal household and the detrimental impact of monarchy on our nation’s political life.”

Expert commentary, or a tinny impression of it, was offered in such prosaic outlets as The Conversation to explain the phenomenon of grief for a person unrelated, unknown and unmet. This all served to further saturate the coverage, offering splashings and coatings for the phenomenon. “So this 24-hour news cycle, and being updated every single step of the queen’s illness and now death,” wrote a solemn academic from the University of New England, “can trigger our own lived experiences of loss. We need to be gentle with those varied reactions.”

Twitter, despite its screechy quality, at least offered a platform for puzzled individuals wondering if the Australian public broadcaster had been kidnapped by zealous monarchists. The veteran ABC broadcaster and former media advisor Barrie Cassidy sensed that something might have gone a bit awry in the adoration binge. “I suspect the ABC has misread its audience. If you want wall to wall royalty you can get it elsewhere in spades. The ABC is better when it offers an alternative to populism.”



The Australian satirical news site, The Shovel, summarised things fairly well when it noted how the minutiae of scant encounters with royalty and memory served to make one an authority. “An Australian man who briefly chatted to Queen Elizabeth at a function 58 years ago has been asked to reflect on the life and times of the monarch, as part of the ABC’s rolling coverage of the royal’s death.” It did not matter that the man’s memory was empty of what was said; what mattered was that he “was labelled a ‘royal expert’, given his intimate relationship with the royal family.”

A degree of this is forgivable. Queen Elizabeth was Madame Continuity, Mother Stability, the one who reigned rather than ruled. And the media, adulation circuit is filled with its selected images, its consecrated saints and its pedestal-placed figures. For the moment, it’s a Queen as protagonist, and for many, The Queen.


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  1. Cheryl

    Totally agree. I was over it within 2hours of hearing the news. Yes you guessed it, I’m not a monarchist but also not in favour of being a republic either due to the fact it gives us just one more legal step/protection from dictatorship, although that may be a shaky notion on my part due to action of the former (thankfully) PM together with the current GG.

  2. New England Cocky

    @ Cheryl: A monarchy IS NO PROTECTION FROM A DICTATORSHIP, as Scummo demonstrated with his about $18 MILLION ”gift” to the Australian Future Leaders Foundation Ltd, a ”charity” for which gg David Hurley advocated in favour.

    Now add Scummo’s five (5) secret Ministries and you have the base for a dictatorship having graduates of the AFLF as the Praetorian Guard for the Royal Australian Dictatorship under overlord ”The One Chosen by the Eagle”.

    Did anybody notice the similarities to the 1920s to 1930s situation in Germany?

  3. King1394

    You realise what level of trivia can be found newsworthy, when it is important to broadcast that Prince Andrew will now be caring for the Queen’s corgis. I am still weighing this for significance. Can it be part of the rehabilitation of this Royal black sheep?

  4. TwainandHume

    I would be worrying about the Corgis well-being with Andrew around …

  5. Canguro

    Ancient King person, thanks for that. I didn’t realise that corgis were black sheep dogs. A bit of a concern though, since the non-sweating prince person (that puts you higher than him via ranking, btw) got royally shafted by Ma’am, or Mummy – whatever he called her (I’m pretty certain it wasn’t Your Highness) – and it’s fair to say that, since by all accounts he’s a prick of the first order, a snob, arrogant, bad-tempered, prone to beastly outbursts, terrible at choosing friends, he’s probably held a bit of a grudge against Mummy for black-listing him and banning him from the kitchen wherein he was known to fondle the galley maids and serving wenches, and with Mumsy now dead as a Norwegian Blue, and the Royal Corgis bequeathed to him as his only benefit per his disgrace and shaming the family firm, that he might just take it out on the said dogs.

    I guess it’s up to him. Rehabilitation? I can see a future for him as the Royal Dog Walker. Thirty laps of the palace grounds, daily. Five years hard marching. Not as tough as Solzhenitsyn had to endure in the infamous archipelago. Worth the effort? Yet to be seen.

    [and I’m guessing you got that newsy tidbit from the ABC? It seems no bar is too low for trivia and nonsense these days for poor old Aunty. She needs a deep reset.]

  6. Greg

    NEC, yes, overtones of Germany 100yrs ago for sure. Q: Who put Morrison up to it? He’s not smart enough to have thought the plan up. There must be some shadowy powers plotting against our democracy, preying on useful idiots of which there seems to be no shortage.

  7. A Commentator

    On this occasion, I agree with Dr Kampmark.
    It is a great pity that the death of QE has overshadowed lots of real news, particularly the failure of Putin’s vanity project, ie the invasion of Ukraine

  8. Harry Lime

    As a mark of respect,I’ve been wearing my shorts at half mast ever since the sad news filtered through the usual fog of lies.
    King 1394,if Handy Andy hadn’t already gone to the dogs,this confirms it.I hope they savage his pathetic arse.Nothing like a sideshow of maudlin, vomit inducing faux pathos to keep reality from breaking out.Murdoch can forget about Aunty now, she’s already fucking herself.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Could someone please pick me up off the floor? I’m on the floor for two reasons: 1) A Commentator agrees with Dr Binoy, and 2) I agree with A Commentator.

    I may need therapy.

    On another note, as per the ABC’s standard of what qualifies a person as a “Royal expert” then I must rate highly. I met Charles and Lady Di at the Adelaide Lord Mayor’s cocktail party in their honour when they visited SA as part of the state’s 150th anniversary. (I knew the mayor, hence the invite). Charles shook my wife’s hand, btw, probably out of respect for having to put up with an idiotic husband. Or perhaps it was out of sympathy. Either case, he shook the hand of the wrong person: It was I that needed the sympathy.

    The highlight of the night, for me, was being singled out by David Hookes as a drinking partner. We shared many, all of which were free.

    As captain of the SA cricket team Hookesy was whisked off by Premier John Bannon for a private audience with the Royal couple. Upon his return, Hookesy told me something that I will take to the grave. It wasn’t complimentary.

    After that brief interruption we carried on with our binge drinking.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Harry, as a mark of respect I’ve decided not to do anything for three weeks.

  11. A Commentator

    You’re becoming more sensible MT, as is Dr Kampmark.
    The issue (on the death of QE) that really bugs me is the public holiday
    Here we are a mature nation, half a world away and we have a day off to mourn?
    It’s shameful, and if I worked I might have considered popping in as a protest. So it’s fortunate that I don’t have to deal with that dilemma!

  12. Michael Taylor

    Just as ludicrous, AC, is the notion that the AFL is bringing forward the Brownlow Medal count (from Monday to Sunday) so not to clash with the Royal funeral.

    Though, in reality, I’ll be watching neither. An old Ma and Pa Kettle movie would be more interesting.

    PS: Brownlow Medal nights are only watchable if a Port Adelaide player has a chance of taking it out.

  13. A Commentator

    The Brownlow Medal vote…
    * [some player that I’ve never heard of] , one vote
    * [pause for effect, and an advert]
    * [another player that I’ve never heard of] , two votes
    …and so on , for about 200 games!
    Interspersed with an interview with a blonde lass who has her outfit held together with blu tack
    No wonder everyone is drunk by the end

  14. Kerri

    It is not comforting to think live in a country beholden to a man who wanted to be a tampon!

  15. Michael Taylor

    You’ve summed it up perfectly, AC.

  16. Consume Less

    Well said Bazza, FFS aunty, you’ve lost the plot. Are there stories out there saying she’s not dead, just gone underground for a while, gets a new makeover / identity, just wants to be pleb like the rest of us.

  17. paul walter

    Kerri, that a harsg judgement, I think you mean Charllie?

  18. King1394

    Can guru, I might have to change my profile picture to Richard II. Not the happiest of Kings but a reputation given extra smears by Shakespeare’s treatment. Perhaps we should spend more time looking at the lives and acts of the lesser monarchs to get a true perspective on what Kingship means.

    Actually, I am looking forward to the reign of Charles III. I think he may surprise a few of us, and speak his mind, particularly on environmental matters. He has waited 70 years for the opportunity.

    I still adhere to his advice expressed when asked what were the main rules he kept to as a young prince. His reply that he never missed the chance to sit down, or to go to the toilet was seen as scandalous, but in my mind a practical and sensible attitude in the face of grand traditions.

  19. andy56

    Couldnt care less. Very old rich lady dies. Cheryl, we can become a republic by simply substituting the GG for the queen. Nothing needs to change. Just state the things we want the GG to do. Dictatorship and any such notions are paranoia to an extreme. We elect the government and we need the government to govern not be so castrated like a US president. Sure we elect a lot of duds, but we also occasionally get good government. What we need is a powerful ICAC and some jail time fror arseholes like abbott and Morison.

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