A definition of drama is “emotional effect characteristic of a play [in a theatre].” That is, an action or speech that is prepared in advance to create an emotional response.
Dramatic responses to the death of the British monarch were expected and were planned to be so. Some drama is written into official protocol as an anachronism from an earlier epoch and is adorned with archaic phraseology and pompous nomenclature. Absurdly-titled and bizarrely-attired characters read garbled texts beneath impractical headgear.
An audience at the theatre will be drawn in and immerse themselves in a well-written play infused with surrealism and set in a scenario wherein basic rules and norms of logic and reason are eschewed. The members of the audience suspend their usual adherence to directing their criticism to be led by intelligence; they accept boundaries, limitations and blinkers of the story’s rules and they are not perturbed by flights of fanciful imagination. For many theatre-goers, film buffs and avid readers of novels, the otherness of the world presented to them is the main attraction.
The writer creates drama within the context of the world she or he built. There are strong echoes in such drama of emotional responses that exist in the real world. Superimposing real natural emotions on a surreal context helps to draw the audience into the false world.
Comments from professional politicians, analysis from professional journalists and reports from professional broadcasters are not supposed to be located in a fantasy world. They should not express themselves subject to concocted rules and warped logic of a surrealist’s imagination. The political opinions and observations they impart, or the news they convey, is not part of a playwright’s, novelist’s or poet’s world. Drama in their reports is an intrusion.
As soon as the queen died a disease of the brain travelled instantaneously through the commentariat community infecting all newspaper journalists, TV and radio broadcasters, freelance columnists and online news outlets. It spread beyond newsrooms to entertainment and sport journalists and broadcasters. It trapped them in a surrealist play, beholden cognitively to unseen writers and directors and unable to diverge from a set path. Stringent bindings prevent them from even the merest divergence.
Symptoms are the same for each infected victim.
- Erasure of analytical abilities
- Suppression of knowledge
- Extreme aversion to objectivity
- Unthinking repetition of subservient mantras
- Preponderance of tautological phrases full of gibberish and unctuousness
- Nauseous cod-reverential tone
- Clunky pomposity
- Bad poetical flavour to banal prose
The disease resembles the effects of ophiocordyceps on ants but acts much more quickly.
A few examples (click the name for the source):
Journalists and broadcasters
Ben Okri (Guardian, 10th September): “People lose their faith and their beliefs daily. This perhaps makes us porous. And into that inner porousness, that vacuum between two periods, a transition from an old world to a new world, the figure of Queen Elizabeth was just what was needed.” Okri erased the capabilities and fortitude of people in the years just after WWII and ascribed both personal and societal advancements as a consequence of one person’s existence. Factually, historically and morally his hypothesis is garbage. Okri’s article is one of the worst ever in The Guardian’s 201 years of publication. Don’t eat before reading it.
Andrew Rawnsley (Guardian, 11th September): “The virtues most widely associated with her – duty, service, constancy, self-restraint and modesty – were the more prized as they became increasingly rare in so many other areas of public life.” In his article Rawnsley elucidated enthusiastically the con of the monarch being above politicking and presented her reign in false contrast to some disreputable behaviour by politicians.
Sky News’ Beth Rigby (Social media (twitter), various dates): “An address so carefully prepared, so carefully written, so carefully delivered,” she commented on King Charles’ first spoken public statement after the queen’s death. Rigby’s penchant for flattery toward dull empty speeches extended to politicians’ obsequious comments on the queen or king: “Starmer’s statesmanlike speech. An incredibly moving, eloquent & evocative speech from Sir Keir Starmer” and “Theresa May also meeting the moment.” Starmer and May had nothing to say but invented descriptions of an illusion. Rigby on Etonian criminal Boris Johnson: “And this is lovely, Johnson describes her as “Elizabeth the Great”.” Her daft observations are incompatible with how an adult operates.
ITV’s Robert Peston (Social media (twitter), various dates): “The proclamation and meeting of accession council was stirring, as a symbol of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.” That nonsensical statement referred to an absurd relic of antiquity that is fully at odds with democracy. The accession council is a gang of unelected detached courtiers. Juxtaposition of it with democracy belongs in a tale by Lewis Carroll. Peston was amazed by handshakes: “Amazing to see King Charles shaking everyone’s hand outside Buckingham Palace. Moving. Unifying.” Who is being unified with whom?
BBC’s Nick Robinson (Social media (twitter), various dates): “The Queen is dead. Long live the King. We remember a life of duty, dedication & service.” That exclamation was not an introduction to an article or TV clip; it was a standalone snatch of propaganda infused with bizarre deference to non-existent qualities.
Evening Standard’s Ayesha Hazarika (Social media (twitter), various dates): “Excellent speech from Charles. Thought he looked comfortable and ready for this moment through his grief. An inclusive message about modern Britain. Classy confident start” was her fanciful assessment of the new king’s bland dishonest speech. Starmer’s speech received similar absurd praise: “This is one of Starmer’s best moments. Beautiful, poignant words. He genuinely rose to the occasion.” On ITV news Hazarika said “I think she’s [the queen] a real feminist icon.”
A cold observer reading comments such as those quoted above would assume the writers’ and speakers’ minds are captured in a manipulative playwright’s dystopia. They are zombiefied thespians.
Libertarians’ commentary on royal death and accession is predictably ridiculous and entirely consistent with their fascistic political philosophy. One far-right grifter is quoted here; there is no need to list examples from others whose tone and content is unvaried and unremittingly stupid. Goodwin is quoted because aforementioned Hazarika choose to promote (retweet) supportively one of his comments.
Free Speech Union and Chatham House’s Matt Goodwin (Social media (twitter), various dates): “There have been some magnificent tributes today –from the right, the left, the centre. And therein lies the power of constitutional monarchy — its incomparable ability to rally us all around the myths & memories of the nation, the full splendour of our collective inheritance.” Goodwin’s Overton Window is skewed considerably from truth; when he calls a political opinion “the centre” he means not quite as far-right as he is and his “the left” means centre-right. He roused dangerous nationalism: “The Queen embodied the values that have come to define these islands and our people. A sense of duty, dignity, humility, gratitude, faith, and belief in the nation. We feel such loss because Her Majesty was us.” (Fact check: Queen’s first language was German.)
Politicians were infected as immediately as journalists and broadcasters, with similar symptoms and similar imprisonment in a surreal drama.
Lead actors in the surrealist’s play, they delivered their words with relentless hammery. Shame and self-awareness were absent; intelligence and facts were banished.
Current Labour leader Keir Starmer in a speech in parliament on 9th September: “The attributes that defined her reign: her total commitment to service and duty, and her deep devotion to the country, the Commonwealth and the people she loved. In return for that, we loved her.” His words were so divorced from reality and so distant from democracy. Starmer seemed under the control of an invasive organism: “Our Queen was at the heart of this nation’s life. She did not simply reign over us; she lived alongside us.” He exclaimed untruths: “Covid closed the front doors of every home in the country. It made our lives smaller and more remote, but she was able to reach beyond that, to reassure us and to steel us. At the time we were most alone, at a time when we had been driven apart, she held the nation close in a way no one else could have done. For that, we say “Thank you”.” The monarch did nothing of the sort. Further invention by Starmer was a political comment that “we” should look at what we agree on: “We must always remember one of the great lessons of our Queen’s reign: that we are always better when we rise above the petty, the trivial and the day-to-day to focus on the things that really matter—the things that unite us—rather than those which divide us.” He and the Tories are almost “united” and both are committed to supporting the wealthy few (including royals) over the majority of people. His speech was the worst ever by a Labour leader on any issue.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi in a statement published on 8th September: “Her Majesty was – and always will be – a beacon of light in every corner of the globe.” Throughout her reign the UK occupied and brutalised countries “in every corner of the globe.” Former colonies of British Empire are removing the British monarch as head of state. Reaction in some countries, most notably Kenya, has not been one of disappointment at her death. Zahawi is a liar.
Tory MP Grant Shapps (a.k.a. Michael Green and Sebastian Fox) in a statement published on 9th September: “Her love of this nation was inspiration.” The extent of the queen’s “love of this nation” can be measured by the millions of pounds she stashed in offshore (tax-avoiding) accounts; it can be measured by income from “crown” estates; it can be measured by a deal she struck with corrupt Tories to dodge inheritance tax.
Current Prime Minister Liz Truss in a statement read outside 10 Downing Street on 8th September: “Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.” Any positive developments in UK since 1952 are not due to the monarch. Truss and the Tory government are actively destroying anything that is useful in UK. “Queen Elizabeth II provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed. She was the very spirit of Great Britain,” was another nonsense statement that displayed definite proof of contagion.
Current leader of Liberal Democrats Ed Davey in a social media (twitter) message on 8th September: “The Queen represented duty and courage, warmth and compassion.” It is difficult to believe that an adult could write the words quoted. They might make sense if spoken by Brian Cant to an audience of two-tear-olds.
Political support for monarchy is expected from most politicians in UK because most support a system that needs the existence of royalty as a demonstration of unmerited superiority. It acts as a dampener on the public to resist the temptation to seek a better system and a better society. Almost all UK politicians act in favour of wealth concentration. They fear if royalty is removed then what or who is next? A domino effect could lead to collapse of the whole of the exploitative system and wealth would be spread around.
Keenness to support continuation of monarchy is expressed via bizarre exultations of its alleged importance and benefits because any sensible argument for the same objective does not exist. It is impossible within bounds of logic and reason and via adult conversation to justify royalty. So, defenders of the system can communicate only in a constricted space that resembles the creation of fantasist writer and makes them appear riven with a mind-controlling disorder.
It is not clear when this will stop. The queen’s funeral is not the end; a coronation of the king will follow later this year.
The sham of British democracy is exposed again.