The recent early morning rumblings of an impending announcement from Buckingham Palace had royal correspondents not to mention the general populace in a highly undignified stew. Was somebody dead or on the verge of dying, was the palace crumbling down, was Harry getting married or William a new head of hair, or were they all departing for somewhere new?
Alas it turned out to be a more trifling matter: Prince Philip stepping down from public duties, a retirement long overdue. The man is 95 years old for goodness’ sake, he has done more than his bit for the country, and can now preserve his quips and other risqué appendages for the services of the comparatively sprightly Queen.
But the panic and worry as Britain wondered did nothing for the nation’s mental health, nor for the markets, which plummeted amid the uncertainty, as the markets are wont to do. In times like these we don’t need tittle-tattle and talk of death before the crack of dawn: as the Prime Minister will readily tell you, we need stability, patriotic duty, and a sense of control.
What better to ensure stability than referendums? If they achieve nothing else, referendums at least restore a veneer of control. In a world which is rapidly changing and culturally shifting and slipping from our hammy-handed grasp, the British public must have a say over that which is most important, the impending future of the royals.
Consolidating the will of the people means taking an active role in Queen Elizabeth’s death. Will it come as she waves from a Gold State Coach, or in bed holding hands with her prince, on a grouse shoot on the grounds of Balmoral, or from sheer over-stimulation as she hangs over the railings at Ascot, sipping gin and wildly cheering herself horse?
A referendum on the death of the Queen has become an imperative, not to hasten the process, but so the British people in a show of sovereignty can steer its historic course. For the sake of propriety a Paris tunnel will find no place on the ballot paper, but as she nears her final earthly engagement, it will be the men and women of the United Kingdom supremely penning and drying the ink.