Queen Elizabeth II funeral: How the King ploughed on through the painful haze of grief, I do not know

As that days wore on in the official mourning period for Elizabeth II, I couldn’t help wonder how the royal family managed to hold it together.

While a significant portion of the nation claimed the loss of the late Queen as their own, the death of a parent is felt at the most profound, cellular level. Something shifts, and you feel it in your heart, soul, blood and bones.

Anyone who knows grief might well recognise days of a shock-driven haze intermingled with hard pain and a helplessness against the force of this life-changing event. Arranging a 25-minute service down the crematorium and a few teas at the local hotel may well take you to your limits of capacity, before having to disappear under a blanket again.

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So I wondered what kind of stuff King Charles III and co were truly made of when they ploughed on through this moment in history, facing the future and this hard, exhaustive and very public test of their purpose, having lost not one, but two family figureheads in just over a year and a half.

Seeing Princess Anne curtsy to her mother’s coffin as it arrived at the Palace of Holyroodhouse was one of the most poignant images of the whole period. It is said that royal children bow or curtsy to the sovereign from around the age of five, duty and the highest of hierarchies observed within the mother and child bond.

It was no surprise to see King Charles and his Queen Consort arrive back at Balmoral on Tuesday following the deep and complex ceremony of Monday’s state funeral. A stillness and serenity coalesce over these 50,000 acres in the shadows of the Cairngorms, where all forces of nature seem to converge. Waters run, colours turn through the trees and big skies awaken and sleep. Life keeps moving, even in the standstill of grief.

King Charles III arrives in Edinburgh with the Queen Consort as the Queen's coffin rested in the Scottish capital last week. PIC: Lisa Ferguson.

And then there is the privacy afforded by this vast holiday home where the royal family are judged as neighbours by the surrounding communities, which emit an air of protectiveness when Balmoral is in use.

It is said the Queen felt she could leave her Crown at the gates of Balmoral. No doubt, the new King will feel the same weight lifted as he retreats, momentarily at least, as man and son.


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