The Queen is dead. Long live the King.

Life  A little after half past six this evening, the palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II.  We heard it via Huw Edwards, who's anchoring of the rolling speculation coverage since the original announcement about her health at lunch time and was becoming noticeably strained.  Moments before, he seemed to stumble over his words as the transmission editor cut from a shot of the gates to Balmoral to the flag flying at half mast over Buckingham Palace.  "And of course we are expecting the news from Balmoral that she's having treatment or that they're unable to help her majesty any more."  Then seconds later, "A few moments ago, Buckingham Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II."

It's not unexpected, but it's also still a shock.  She's been the head of state for my entire life and my parent's lives, my Mum was 75 when she left us, my Dad is nearly 80.  However much you might think the royals have nothing to do with you, the shift from having a queen to king will have impact from the cash in your pocket having a new face printed on it to such events as the state opening of parliament just having a different energy.  We going to have to get used to using a different pronoun for our head of state.  The lyrics to our national anthem have changed.  There's also the historic moment of the country having a change in monarch and prime minister in the same week.  

The one occasion when I shared space with the Queen was at school.  I sang for the Queen on the occasion of her fortieth year as monarch.  It was in my sixth form at Blue Coat School and someone decided it would be good idea to fill the Anglican Cathedral with school kids and have them sing Handel's Zadok very loudly, whilst oddly other kids offered a martial arts demonstration. We practiced solidly for two weeks, frequently after school and on the day the big church looked a treat, and even though we had all rehearsed separately, the collective sound was suitably epic. Even the anti-royalists amongst us were excited about meeting her majesty. But she was clearly having a very busy day and didn’t have time to stop and listen, passing by on her way to the altar.

Here, then, we greet King Charles III.  I think it's fair to say the nation thinks of him less warmly, especially post-Diana.  It'll be up to him to navigate the future of the monarchy, an institution which has certainly taken a knock due to numerous scandals over the past few years.  But now that Elizabeth has gone, it's sure to enter an even more troubled era in which the pomp and circumstance looks even more antiquated, the sheer cost increasingly unjustifiable outside of the upkeep of the houses.  But I do think it'll survive even him in some form and honestly good.  The monarchy has provided continuity for a thousand years and do we really want to be the generation to ruin it?  Don't answer that ...