How Paddington Bear turned me into a reluctant royalist - GP Taylor
Strangely, since the Jubilee celebrations, I have slowly felt my sympathy towards the Royal Family growing. Watching Paddington Bear with the Queen left me in tears. It was a very touching piece of television and showed a side of Her Majesty that struck a chord with the nation.
"Thank you, Ma'am, for everything."
The sentence left me wondering what this "everything" was. My beliefs were that she was an unelected head of state, with little political power, but much invisible influence. I was an ardent believer that we were at the time when things should change.
Paddington set me off on a journey of questioning my deeply held beliefs. Over the summer a battle took place within me as to what I really felt. In the months that followed, I researched what it would be like with an elected head of state. The possibility of having a Donald Trump or Tony Blair as a President left me cold. Both could cause untold damage to our country, as power always corrupts. Politicians tell lies, that is a fact. They lie about parties and they lie about reasons to go to war.
On the day the Queen died, I dreaded the fact that the country would be plunged into mourning and normal life would stop.
Yet, surprisingly, it has been a time that I have cherished. There has been an incredible silence in politics. The enforced shutdown of politicians has been a great relief from having to listen to Keir Starmer shouting the odds. Politicians had to behave in a way fitting for mourning the Queen. Long may it continue. Perhaps they will act like adults in future, tasked with steering the country through a crisis winter.
My overwhelming feeling is that her death and funeral has had a healing effect on the nation. It has brought people together in grief, with the hope of a better future. The stories of her life-long service have been amazing. Queen Elizabeth has obviously touched the hearts of millions of people in a very real way. It is little mentioned, but the Queen was a working mum who was loved by her children and loved them.
Even as a republican, I cannot criticise her hard work and determination to build a better country. It is an uncomfortable truth for me that she has been an incredible ambassador for Britain.
It was heart-warming to see the queues of people wishing to pay their respects. All aspects of our society came together to say goodbye to a woman who meant so much to them. If you hear anyone trying to tell you Britain is a racist country, remind them of the blend of people who queued for hours and hours. Look at the faces of the people that lined the funeral route. It was Britain at its multi-cultural best. It cannot be denied that the death of Queen Elizabeth has had an incredible effect on the psyche of the nation.
It is as if there has been a great reset in public life. Families, friends and even strangers came together to give thanks and celebrate a life that touched them all. Crowds gathered across the country to watch the funeral. I would never have believed until now that in this modern age, so many people would have turned out for the Queen. This is something that I as a Republican never thought would happen.
The global grieving for the Queen has been far bigger than that for President Kennedy and Nelson Mandela. I never realised how much she was loved by so many people and how much real support the monarchy has. It is the type of support that I feel will never be overwhelmed. The possibility of a republic is sadly a total non-starter.
Praise should be given to the Royal family and especially King Charles. He is a man that I have never admired and was not impressed by when I was invited to meet him, (with Jimmy Saville in tow) at the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough.
What the last few days have shown me, is that despite my previous thoughts, the monarchy is in safe hands. King Charles has handled the death of his mother, the funeral and his troublesome family with great dignity and a depth of character. This has challenged my judgement of him. I find myself looking forward to what his incumbency might bring. He is a man who has a great opportunity to create the changes needed to the monarchy to make it fit for purpose.
I would rather have him as a symbolic head of state than a self-seeking elected leader. My opinion has significantly changed. Someone born into the post is preferable to a power-hungry politician.
In the depths of my heart I will still be critical of the monarchy, but the death of the Queen has made me question my beliefs and I have to say that thanks to Paddington Bear, I have become a reluctant Royalist. So, thank you, Ma'am, for everything. God save the King.
GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster who lives in Yorkshire.