The Queen’s Coffin

When you are dead weight in life, perhaps it’s only to be expected that you should be even more so in death. Forced to adhere to that silly tradition of “lying in state,” the queen had to be transported all around creation, as though solely to prove she was, as The Beatles would say, “so heavy” indeed. In truth, one might remark that forced traditionalism was the crux of Great Britain’s problem. It was as though, despite the increasingly verbal outcry and concentration of republicans, no one could ultimately take enough of a stand to make it all stop. The monarchy as an institution, that is. With even the republican protesters technically showing up to the funeral—even if not to “pay their respects”—it was difficult to deny that, however you sliced it, the royal family still had undeniable power over the British masses. The ability to captivate and “call to arms.”

On the day that the queen’s coffin, requiring eight pallbearers to carry its leaden bottom (the queen knew all about a leaden bottom), showed up to Westminster, one such Briton had been called to arms more literally. For, despite the tight security, Neville Thackeray was able to sneak his accoutrements of destruction (a series of cleverly concealed explosives) through the crowds and right toward the queen’s precious casket. Made thirty years ago in preparation for this very occasion and crafted of strong English oak. A material that’s extremely challenging (read: expensive) to get one’s hands on. But nothing was ever too good for the queen. At the same time, no material is so strong that a bomb couldn’t decimate it. Which is precisely what Neville had in mind when he showed up to Westminster Hall armed to the hilt. For that’s where the queen was meant to lie in state for a total of four days. All in the name of tradition. 

It seemed that, in the monarchy’s unwavering belief in itself of an institution “worthy” of so much endless praise, the royal family could never have imagined someone would dare do anything dastardly to the queen’s corpse. Like most rich people, they assumed that nothing bad can happen to you, especially not when you’re dead and everyone is meant to be “paying their respects” (re: licking your arsehole as was expected when you were alive). 

Neville seethed inwardly as he watched the entire pathetic lot—misty-eyed with their flowers to give. Wasting hard-earned money on that callous bitch, who never would’ve given them a shilling. All this phony baloney about showing “respect.” Not just for the queen, but those who wished to “honor” her. What, the same way she “honored” indigenous people throughout her bloodbath of a reign? There were those who wanted to see her forever as a sweet old lady with her tea and crumpets and her adoring barrage of canines. But that was part of the façade she was so skilled at projecting. Her stoicism was her superpower. People could read into her “personality” whatever they wanted. And what they wanted was to believe she was some kind of “dear madam.” Imperious, yet approachable, just like your own nan. Neville, a life-long republican, knew better. He knew it at eight years old, when he was subjected to watching the queen’s coronation on TV. Presently, at seventy-eight years old, he still knew it. More than ever. Even if no one else surrounding him at this very instant wanted to fully admit the truth to themselves. 

And the truth was, this bag of bones had what was coming to her. Since she hadn’t received her just comeuppance in life, it was only right that she should at least get it in death. She honestly thought she could sidestep the wrath of the people forever. Well, she could fucking forget about it now. The other fact was, Neville wanted to blow these worshipping idiots away, too. The disgusting, saccharine fools lining up to stare at a coffin through the window of a hearse. As though they had no real lives of their own. The morbidity, to boot. Taking photos of the old bag and posting them online. And then members of Parliament had the gall to talk about “respect,” chastising any protesters who wanted to make their anti-monarchy presence known at these various ceremonies of pomp and circumstance. Fucking twats, all of them. Luckily, he was here to wake them up. 

The best part was, no one noticed him. As an old man, he was inherently invisible. The only thing that would have made him feel even more secure about not being suspected of any “funny business” was if he had been an old woman instead. But one must work with what they’re given in this life. And what the queen and her ilk had been given was too much. A surfeit of privilege that was too grotesque for working-class Neville to bear. Just as he had refused to bear his mother’s own worship of the queen. That’s how “mummy” had come to her premature end. For Neville didn’t bother to tell her he had left the gas stove on without the flame. Before Mum knew it, she was slipping into peaceful unconsciousness thanks to the tried-and-true method of carbon monoxide poisoning. But Neville was kind about it, he timed her last hours so that she would be listening to the stupid git’s farewell broadcast to India. Just another country the monarchy still ultimately viewed as one of the “colonies.” Imperialism dies hard. Or, in Britain’s case, never. One would have hoped it could die with this queen. But no, “power” was unquestioningly “transferred” to her feeble, dim-witted son. 

So it was up to Neville, then, to refresh their collective memory about what a monster the queen was, as well as everything she was only too contented to represent. What Neville was about to carry off, in effect, would only be in keeping with what the IRA had to do in order to remind the UK of what it was being “glamored” by. Neville’s favorite job that lot had ever done were the Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombings, taking credit for it afterward by parroting back Thatcher’s words about the Falklands to her: “the Irish people have sovereign and national rights which no task or occupational force can put down.” 

Neville took a page from this by using what the queen had said in that first Christmas broadcast for the note they would find attached to him: “I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice. But I can do something else. I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” That, in Neville’s mind, was precisely what he had just done in blowing her corpse to bits. The remnants hitting the faces of the crowd like so many pieces of gristle-laden meat. He wondered, as he lay among the carnage dying, if that would be enough to get them to finally understand. To see. That republicanism was the future. Not this. Not anymore. 

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