DAILY MAIL COMMENT: No second chance for this greatest farewell
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A homecoming, but the most sorrowful sort. Under shroud-black skies last night, the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace for the final time.
Her flag-draped coffin was met by grieving members of the Royal Family – led by King Charles III and the Queen Consort – who will mourn privately. Such a source of stability, comfort and continuity for the nation for so many years, it is still scarcely believable she is no longer in our presence.
Scarcely believable, too, that a few short weeks ago thrilled crowds packed into the Mall to cheer her appearance on the palace balcony to mark her Platinum Jubilee.
What a poignant contrast to today, when solemn well-wishers will line London’s streets as her coffin is transported to Westminster Hall, for four days’ lying in state.
A homecoming, but the most sorrowful sort. Under shroud-black skies last night, the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace for the final time
However, there are grave fears the Government and authorities (not, we hasten to add, the Palace) have failed to plan adequately for the huge public desire to salute the much-loved sovereign in person.
People, having flocked from across the kingdom, face 35-hour queues to file past her coffin. Logistics suggest only 400,000 will do so – with millions left bitterly disappointed.
But man has landed on the Moon, for goodness’ sake. It shouldn’t be beyond the wit of ministers and officials to find a common sense solution. What about extending the funeral route, to ease the immense strain?
As Robert Hardman writes today, this is to be the greatest collective farewell of our lifetimes. We won’t get a second chance.
People, having flocked from across the kingdom, face 35-hour queues to file past her coffin. Logistics suggest only 400,000 will do so – with millions left bitterly disappointed
Breach of protocol
In a moving service of reflection in Belfast yesterday, attended by King Charles, the Archbishop of Armagh spoke powerfully of one of the Queen’s finest achievements.
Driven by duty and empathy, he said, she was a major force for healing and reconciliation between Northern Ireland’s divided Unionist and Nationalist communities, as well as Britain and Ireland.
Indeed, her historic handshake with the former IRA terrorist Martin McGuinness in 2012 signposted a better future, free from bloodshed and hatred.
On the first visit to the province by a British king in 80 years, Charles rightly pledged to follow her ‘shining example’.
In a moving service of reflection in Belfast yesterday, attended by King Charles, the Archbishop of Armagh spoke powerfully of one of the Queen’s finest achievements
After all, he himself has been touched by Troubles tragedy: The IRA murdered his great-uncle, Earl Mountbatten, in a brutal terror attack in 1979. He knows perfectly well that as sovereign he cannot overstep into political opinion – especially given the sensitivities in Northern Ireland.
It is hard, then, to understand what Simon Coveney seeks to achieve by hinting that the King wants a deal with the EU on the broken Northern Ireland protocol, which has already inflamed sectarian tensions.
Is the Irish foreign minister cynically seeking to exploit the mourning period for political ends? Or does he fundamentally misunderstand that the British monarch has to be strictly politically neutral?
Policing free speech
With wearying inevitability, a tiny number of anti-monarchist protesters have targeted public events to mourn the Queen and celebrate the new King.
But while these demonstrations were insensitive and inappropriate, the police’s heavy-handed response to those expressing republican views is deeply troubling.
Should a man who yelled ‘Who elected him?’ at a proclamation of Charles III really be arrested? Was it honestly proportionate to charge a woman simply for holding up a sign that read ‘Abolish the monarchy’? Their actions were hardly high treason.
Sadly, this was the latest disturbing example of officers overstepping the mark.
In this of all weeks, it’s important the police remember the monarchy symbolises our democratic liberties. And the most essential one of those is freedom of speech.
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