How do you sum up a lifetime of service in 280 characters, or two minutes? That’s the challenge that many a newspaper and broadcaster has faced since His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh died on 9th April.
In our day and age, where attention spans are limited and people’s patience for things not to do with the latest righteous cause or celebrities is minimal, trying to explain just why the Duke of Edinburgh’s death was so significant was a difficult task. The BBC found this out to their cost when they received over 109,000 complaints for covering the Duke’s death for the entire day following his death being announced.
For someone like me, who is an unabashed monarchist that is shocking. Why did so many people complain about the national broadcaster discussing and covering the life and death of the Queen’s consort. A man who gave his entire life in service to his Queen and Country? I just can’t understand that line of thinking.
But then I am a bit of an anachronism. I am a monarchist, and one who firmly believes that more countries would benefit from having a monarchy. That makes me an odd one in my age group. This stood out most clearly to me when reading an article by Megan Agnew in the Sunday Times paper on 18th April, shortly after the Duke’s funeral.
In her article, she talks about how many young people don’t know how to feel about the Duke’s death. She mentions that whilst many feel sorry for the Queen, they also feel somewhat detached. One of the biggest reasons for this, it seems is that unlike modern day celebrities, the Duke and other Royals never let too much light into their lives. There were no personally harrowing sob stories, there were no inspirational quotes posted on instagram. Instead, there was that old mentality of simply buggering on.
Life was difficult, but you got on with it, because that’s what was expected.
That mentality does seem fairly alien to many people nowadays, when we are constantly encouraged to share every nitty gritty and shitty part of ourselves online. It’s supposed to be some form of therapy, to show that the rich are just like us. And the fact that the Duke didn’t do that made him seem alien to my generation, I suppose.
Then of course there were his so called gaffes. Comments where he said things that perhaps would trigger a 25 year old, given the fragilities that millennials have. As Agnew says, one of her friends did say. “I think a royal is more responsible for what they say, rather than less.” Quite, but of course, instead of sitting there and mouthing off platitudes, the Duke said what he thought and stuck by his comments.
For my generation, where there is this constant fear of saying the wrong thing and not getting anywhere, perhaps that freedom sparked jealousy and a sense of envy, or maybe even horror?
Finally, there was Ms Agnew’s acknowledgement that she and her peers didn’t know much about the Duke of Edinburgh before his death.
This was an astonishing revelation to me. How could someone have grown up within the UK and not known more about this most interesting and intriguing of people?
I think this speaks to a general sense of dismissiveness and a lack of care and education amongst the younger generations.
In the past, people knew something about their Royal Family, they cared to know who their rulers were. Now, with social media shitting on people’s attention spans and driving them all into tribes, most people, especially people of my age group, don’t really want to understand nuance or give a shit if there is more to someone than a gaffe they made about slitty eyes.
It is very easy to judge someone based off of a soundbite some idiot has placed on Twitter. It is harder to judge someone when you actually do research into them. Doing so gives you a wider view on them and their life, it forces you to think.
That is something that my age group don’t seem to want to do, what with their unfailing acceptance of certain woke screeds and other such things.
Perhaps now with His Royal Highness gone, the youth of today and the future will spend time understanding their heritage and the Royal Family, rather than dismissively demanding their removal, to follow some trend started by the Americans, a country whose existence is shorter than our history.