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Fit for a Queen (laphamsquarterly.org)
19 points by drjohnson 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments





By comparison, Prince Philip recently: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56694327 - although greatly muted by the restrictions on public gatherings.

The current Queen can maybe manage another decade, but I suspect there's going to be a huge culture war over how extravagant her funeral will be. But mourning has, in any case, changed greatly from Queen Victoria's time. It used to be a far more public life event for everyone. In the modern era, funerals are almost invisible on social media.


How did the citizens feel about these lavish displays? To me it gives an uncomfortable feeling. It's no wonder many people wanted reforms.

> How did the citizens feel about these lavish displays? (i.e., Queen Victoria's funeral)

A certain amount of pomp is probably worthwhile for its contribution to social cohesion. But that probably hits the point of diminishing returns fairly quickly — not to mention the risk of having it go to the heads of those involved. And good lord are there ever enough other needs on which the resources could be profitably spent; as President Eisenhower said in his famous Cross of Iron speech: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." [0] The same could be said about excessive pomp.

Footnote: One of the things I've always admired about Ike is that he directed that he be buried in an ordinary G.I. coffin and wearing his plain, everyday Army working uniform from WWII. "The casket is $80 government issue requested by Eisenhower. The only difference between his casket and those furnished for any soldier buried by the Army is an inner glass seal that cost an extra $115. It was lined with tailored eggshell crepe." [1]

[0] https://www.nps.gov/features/eise/jrranger/quotes2.htm

[1] https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/eisenhowers/dwight-d-eisen...


At least according to the article, it was also supposed to demonstrate the strength and spoils of empire, as to remind people why they were doing the whole empire thing in the first place.

> By the time of the coronation of the new King, postponed from June to August 1902 because of his falling ill to appendicitis, the public were not only used to massive displays of pomp but expected them, and expected the world to be watching. The King was devoted to pageantry and show, and this essential part of the tone of Edwardian Britain took its lead from him.

It’s worth noting that Victorian England was, despite obvious shortcomings, still a giant wave of technological innovation and improvement in living standards over what had preceded it. Every country has experienced this shift; only after you get future generations who have never known the previous levels of living do people start agitating for reforms.


Although democratic republics are now in heavily advertised fashion, I'm reminded of a small scene in Heinlein's Glory Road ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_Road ): in that story the 1960's American ex-soldier protagonist was picked up by the Galactic Empress for a tough but vital quest, married her and lived at the palace for a while.

At one reception, a guest asked him how were things back home, if they still had the "noble experiment". The American thought he was referring to Prohibition, but the Galactic clarified he was referring to democracy (and got punched.)


Certainly there were people wanting and attempting to push reforms, before, during and after the Victorian era. There were religious movements based around egalitarianism already in the 1600s. After that the whole American and French revolutions. During the Victorian era, suffragettes for example. Edit: and of course communism afterwards.

Suffragettes only really start picking up steam in the 20th century and Queen Victoria died in 1901.

I'm not going to say that Victorian social norms were frozen in time but there wasn't anything on the scale of the 20th century movements in terms of radicalization.




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