The day King George died they cancelled Children’s Hour,
and filled the evening with ‘solemn music’.
The day his son-in-law died Gardeners’ World
was cancelled, and the corporate ether filled
with hacks masquerading as historians,
historians as hacks, confidently
exuding contradictory gossip, viz.
his father-in-law ‘feared him’, ‘loathed him’,
‘really respected,’ ‘admired immensely’.
The Duke was one of the few men or women
remaining who might have thought of the Hapsburgs,
the Hohenzollerns and the Romanovs
as family, and knew intimately those
who had witnessed the eagles fall. He was born
a month after the partition of Ireland.
The nights of rioting – by the Queen’s
Loyalist subjects – preceding his death
might have been deemed, at one time, ominous.
His was to have been a state funeral –
the flag-draped coffin on a gun carriage pulled
from the Palace by eighty ratings,
along Pall Mall, across Horse Guards Parade,
into Whitehall down to the Abbey,
just the sound of the steel-rimmed wheels, the boots.
Covid 19, if not the great leveller
then certainly a major purveyor
of ironies, well and truly – to use
a fittingly naval phrase – scuppered all that.
Though none of the sycophants have mentioned it,
hopefully the Prince appreciated
irony, at, as it were, his own expense.
Having invented the Royal Family
as a media product he appears
to have been appalled by the disrespectful
exploitation of the embarrassed
celebrities he created – and, ersatz
Greek that he was, perhaps remembered
too late Prometheus’s fate. However,
whatever the final sum might be of his
long, privileged life, a very old woman
has lost her friend of more than eighty years.