Piers Morgan says Queen’s pallbearers should receive MBEs
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No big screens live streamed the events in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s main square, which is where thousands of people enthusiastically gathered for evening light shows throughout the week. Although, in the capital, Rome, a live public screening of the Queen’s final journey had been organised, which was a ticket-only event.
Life in Bologna went on pretty much as normal on Monday. Shops and businesses were open and the city was bustling with tourists on a warm late September day.
A group of four British people in their early 20s were chatting for more than an hour in the main square over coffees and orange juice and they never once mentioned the Queen nor the funeral, instead focusing on the aftermath of an Ironman event.
La Repubblica on Monday morning had a small teaser piece on its front page and a double page spread across pages 11 and 12, detailing the world leaders who were set to attend the funeral, along with a large and detailed graphic explainer. There was also a comment piece from Andrew Morton, the author of the book on Princess Diana and the Queen.
The funeral day itself in Bologna was cloudless with blue skies and the sun streaming down as temperatures hit 20C. Hawkers failed to flog white sports socks to uninterested tourists, sipping coffees at the outside cafe tables in Piazza Maggiore.
Nearby, a traditional bookshop paid tribute to the Queen in a simple message, with a picture of the monarch in powder blue, near to biographies about Elisabetta. It was a small gesture in a city largely unaffected by her death. Not surprising, though, given its history of radical politics.
In 1946, Italy dispensed with its own Royal Family as the institution had become synonymous with the dictator Mussolini.
People queued outside the Apple store after the launch of the Iphone14 and outside the popular deli selling pasta. There were queues, too, outside a gelateria beloved by locals and tourists alike. They were much, much shorter than the queues in London to pay tribute to Her Majesty.
Marco Resting, 29, a cycle guide in Bologna, said: “No, I am not bothered at all about the Queen dying. For me it’s a change of era for the 21st Century monarch. What I’m feeling is King Charles III won’t be as good as the Queen was, as he’s not as charismatic. He doesn’t convey the same importance as she did.
“The Queen was iconic – you could connect with her and the image of Her Majesty also was the image of the 21st Century. She was a woman from another era with her behaviour.
“I did not watch her funeral but the sister of my girlfriend happened to be in London when she died. For her, that was always going to be an unforgettable moment. It will be a memory for her whole life – she will be forever connected to the history of what happened and the dying of the Queen.”
In Caffe Bona Le, the bartender scrolled through his mobile phone before landing on a picture of one of his pals – who is currently sightseeing in London.
He noted: “The people of the world are sad about the Queen’s death, but she lived to 96. This is a good age. My friend had gone to London for the Queen to pay his respects. He’s still there now.”
At the flower market, two American tourists, both of whom are retired, said with some emphasis that the Queen meant a lot to them as Americans.
Her lengthy reign throughout their lives, clearly had left its mark. “The day after she died, our local radio station began playing music from every artist she had knighted during her reign. There were quite a lot of musicians – but it was such a great touch.
“She meant a lot to a lot of people. The story was all over the news in the US for a number of days. The Queen was very well respected over there.”
But in a city centre phone case shop, assistant Lino Sculac, 29, had a different take on the Queen’s death. A Croatian national who has lived in Bologna for a decade, he is unconvinced by the value of the monarchy.
“I don’t agree with the monarchy”, he said with brutal honesty. “It’s my general view that as an institution it should not exist. My beliefs are socialist – bordering on anarchist and I have an ideology that’s anti fascist. For King Charles, I don’t think he was really prepared to be King yet, despite waiting all his life.”
Lino acknowledges not being English and being a republican, makes him unaware of all the cultural nuances surrounding the Royal Family and funeral.
He added: “Okay, for the UK you can reflect on her death and it is alright to mourn her death. But by mourning also reflect on what she meant as a figurehead and consider changing and challenging that authoritative figure idea.”
He said without a monarchy, as in Croatia, tourists will still visit and be aware of its history. Elsewhere, at the church overlooking the city, English and history teacher Thomas Paige, 42, from Sydney, Australia, offered a rare pro-Elizabethan viewpoint, as a pro-constitutional monarchist.
“The Queen does not mean that much to me as a person,” he admitted. “But as a monarch, she’s very important. I think the monarchy, as a system, is of international interest. And it is a form of protection between people and executive power which is like a division of power.”
He explained that the monarchy exists between the people and the politicians in the UK and is an essential buffer.
Thomas added: “But in Australia if there is ever a crisis, this doesn’t exist – it is on one person. The Queen was able to bring in Prime Ministers every week. And it wasn’t just a little old lady meeting them, it was also what was sitting behind her – 1,000 years of the monarchy.”
He said the monarchy, like many families, has its weaknesses. Had the Queen’s death been another European monarch, there would be far less ceremony and mourning than there is been in the UK, he added.
“The country has rallied around one person. But if it had been the King of Netherlands or the monarch in Norway, it wouldn’t have felt the same. There’s a huge amount of mourning.
“As far as the new King, Charles III, is concerned I support him as an individual and feel he has conducted himself quite well in the little that he’s been seen in public.
“He has his own personal foibles, particularly in 2022 for a person to have two valets to dress them is unusual along with his huge income from the Duchy of Cornwall.
“That may have been more normal 20 or 30 years ago. But in the last five years with austerity it rubs people up the wrong way.”
Fellow traveller Cathy Moran, 58, who is a music teacher from Sydney, offers an opposing viewpoint on the monarchy.
“My mum was English,” she explains. “And she came to Australia when she was two years old in 1923. I’m the youngest of seven children. I didn’t watch the funeral and I don’t care about missing it. I’m not a fan of the monarchy.
“I thought the Queen was a great lady – a strong, independent woman, but I’m not interested in her as Queen. I feel we shouldn’t have a monarchy. In Australia, we had a Republican vote in the late 1990s and somebody came in and it was off on a technicality. People in Australia do not want to be beholden to England.
“We’re our own country and have our own figureheads. While we respect the British monarchy, we don’t think it has anything to do with Australia.”
She does, however, express sympathy for King Charles III. “I do feel a bit sorry for him”, she added. “Everybody says he’s not good enough to be King. But he had no choice and a huge wait to be King. I do feel it is a waste of our finances paying anything for the monarchy.”
Cathy says she remembers in 1988 when the then Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Australia for the bicentenary. “It cost a fortune!”, she added. “I think for most people in Australia want to be a republic and eventually they will vote for it.”
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