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NIGEL PAULEY: ‘In a cruel world and in difficult times we come together’

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I do not know about you, but I have been feeling a bit out of sorts – discombobulated – these past few days, writes NIGEL PAULEY.

Our Queen’s death has unleashed a wide range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

It is not easy to explain. 

There is a feeling of loss. Sadness but also fear. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown.

But also memories. Some happy. Some sad. Some personal and some about the Queen.

More importantly, there has also been the comfort of strangers.

The comfort of knowing I am not alone in my feelings of discombobulation.

Millions of others are also feeling out of sorts. Unsure what to do. Or think. Or feel. 

At times like these, so the cliche goes, “the nation comes together.”

We are seeing that, with the crowds gathering outside Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, Sandringham.

Ordinary people. Feeling out of sorts. Feeling discombobulated. Unsure what to do and so heading to join others paying their respects. Laying flowers. Leaving messages.

Some middle class liberals may mock  – or at least raise a snooty eyebrow – at these “ordinary” people and their devotion to the Monarchy.

But, I am finding it a huge comfort in seeing them standing patiently outside the royal palaces.

In a cruel world and in difficult times we come together.

We did it during the pandemic. Clapping for the NHS on our doorsteps and of course, earlier, there’ was the famous “Blitz Spirit.” 

But no-one teaches you how to deal with grief – whether personal or for the loss of our Queen of 70 years.

Few of us knew the Queen or even met her – but somehow all of us *felt* we knew her.

I lost my own mother less than a year ago. My father died a year before.

Like the Royals I had made that mad dash we all dread – but will all make at some time or another – to my mum’s home.

So, I felt strangely emotional on Thursday at 6.30pm when Huw Edwards made the official announcement that our Queen had died.

That a person  who had been a constant throughout my lifetime was no more. Just like my mum.

And since then I have felt out of sorts. 

As, I am sure, from chats with friends, so many other people are also.

I know that grief comes in waves and hits you at different times.

Unlike the royals – who must grieve in the public gaze – we can mourn our loved ones in private.

So, I am sure, that they will find comfort from those strangers who are gathering outside the palaces to pay their respects to the late Queen.

I know I am.

Most of us have never known a world without our Queen in it.

Few of us have experienced a monarch dying. Or a succession. Or a coronation.

Sure there has been the protocols and the Operations Unicorn, London Bridge Marquee, and Spring Tide, being quietly rehearsed and updated.

But no-one has carried them out. Or seen them in action. Or even know if they would work 

Until now. 

I’ve often wondered what it would have been like living during moments of great history being made, 1066 and all that, the Wars of the rose, the Civil War, the Victorian age.

Then I realised we are all  living through British history being made right now.

The Queen started her reign in an era of radio and television – black and white – television being in its infancy and ended it with in an age of 24/7 news channels, the internet, social media and smart phones.

Now, millions around the world are able to see the history being made. 

On their televisions. On social media. On the internet. 

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In 1952 we would have only heard about the proclamations and crowds gathering around Buckingham Palace and Windsor via the radio or the next day’s newspapers.

In 2022 we can see it. Instantly. 

We are witnessing history. We are living through history. We are seeing our country at its absolute best – in the very worst of times.

Some think the prolonged period of official mourning is too much and are not sure what it means to them. Or how to react.

Their life is going on – they are working. Shopping. Dropping kids at school. going to the pub.

But they cannot watch the football. Or horse racing, while golf and cricket is going on.

I can understand the anger and confusion. 

But we are living through strange times. We are sailing unchartered waters. 

None of us really knows how the act or react.

We are seeing history made on our flat screens as we bid farewell to Elizabeth the Great and the Elizabethan Age and usher in King Charles III and the Carolean Era…

A week or so of discombobulation is a small price to pay.

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