Last year a woman in a castle died. Rumors and notes moved to black cloth and whispers and then the word: she had died and was succeeded by her son. She had been appointed when young by God to be Queen and she had been diligent, as the girl became a woman became frail and she and the years wore away. She had died and the duty passed to the man, and a strange period began.

Life is a succession of gates, thresholds, transitions in the modern tongue. You go thru them and are changed and cannot go back: the foetus becomes the baby, the single the married, the living the dead. Each time there is there is food, drink, song and a register – a ceremony. There is food, drink, song and a register: the baby was born on X, I now pronounce you man and wife, time of death at Y pm. Wakes, receptions, wetting the baby’s head, wedding marches, funeral marches, Amazing Grace on the pipes. The Queen is dead.

And now there was a new gate, and the man stepped up to begin.

There was a desk and a camera, and the man in a beautiful dark suit spoke. The words were well spoken, the prose well chosen, the continuity laid down: the queen is dead, she was good, we will mourn, I am now king. Long live the King.

Plans were made. There was a laying-in-state, and people queued, and it was called The Queue. Then she was laid to rest, the instruments of State beside her, the Wand of Office snapped in two. Priests and the choir in new gowns spoke and sang and a piper quietly walked. The Queen is dead.

And we know in our hearts that it is mummery and show, that the continuity is discontinous, the tale a fabrication, the history a story. We know this, we know this, we know this. But we also know that we need a link to the divine and the spiritual, the ineffable and the land beyond, words to tell ourselves to tell who we ourselves are, a mask we wear and hope it is our face, the best face, the bestest face to the world. We are still here, and have been here, and we are here to stay and will stay here. Yma o Hyd, as the Welsh say, and what we have, we hold. The Queen is dead, long live the King.

And on this day the May blossoms ex terra Anglorum, Scottorum, Cambrica et Hiberniae Superioris. Today a crown will be placed on the head of a man and a man will by God anoint him with oil, and we pass thru a new gate as a new ceremony begins. There will again be food, there will again be drink, there will again be a register, and as the second Elizabethan Age passes to the third Carolean, there will be again be song…

…Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king. And all the people rejoiced and spake. God save the King. Long live the King.


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