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In March, The Guardian revealed an 8,000-word story about what is going to occur when Queen Elizabeth II dies. The reporter for the story, Sam Knight, recorded each element of the plans and the doubtless political and emotional penalties, from the kind of coffin (lead-lined) to the variety of accessible seats at spots alongside the queen’s funeral route. Knight addressed one thing most Brits haven’t even contemplated, a “psychological reckoning for the dominion that she leaves behind,” he wrote. The Huffington Put up spoke to Knight final week to be taught extra about how he bought the story.
How did this text come about?
Often, long-form writers and editors from The Guardian have lunch and discuss issues. It was the tip of a turbulent and dispiriting 2016, and we checked out one another and mentioned, “What occurs subsequent?” And somebody mentioned, “The queen goes to die.” And we had been like, “Yeah, you’re in all probability proper.”
As quickly as we began speaking about what would possibly occur, I considered a New Yorker story by Evan Osnos about [President Donald] Trump’s first time period. It got here out in September, earlier than the outcomes, and it was written sooner or later tense. It was so stunning whenever you learn it. It felt substantial, despite the fact that it was speculative journalism. I imagined I might write one thing alongside these traces in regards to the demise of the queen.
Your story is meticulously reported. The place did you start?
All the things to do with the monarchy is predicated on precedent. My first thought was that despite the fact that this occasion is sooner or later, it’s going to be primarily based on what occurred up to now. So the primary place I went was the National Archives.
I pulled up all of the outdated recordsdata to do with the funerals of [King] George VI in 1952 and [Prime Minister Winston] Churchill in 1965. Seating plans. Processional routes. When to ring the bells. When to decrease the flags. How you can deal with MPs and different politicians. It gave me a construction for the occasion. And it additionally gave me the correct of inquiries to ask. In case you learn the stories, you instantly knew to ask, “Is the coffin going to have a false lid?”
Through the analysis course of, did something shock you?
I used to be interviewing a former palace individual ― you must bear in mind, the royals are busy, their schedules are extremely hectic ― and I used to be pondering, this individual have to be so busy with operating the royal family that there mustn’t be an excessive amount of time for the funeral stuff. Is that an occasional factor? Give the plans a little bit of a polish? Then this individual checked out me like I used to be loopy, as a result of I used to be uncertain how essential it will be. These state events grow to be enormous metaphors for the nation. The queen’s funeral will probably be a time for the monarchy to restate itself. I had underestimated that.
Discuss in regards to the writing. It’s all sooner or later tense, which is so uncommon.
It wasn’t too unusual. However I used to be decided that the article can be brisk and unsentimental and simply get on with it. No throat-clearing about “this occasion won’t ever come to move,” which is how articles like this are usually written. I wished this story to be matter-of-fact.
We discuss in regards to the queen as if she’s 75, however she’s 91. In case you had a member of your loved ones who was 91, they’d be in sheltered housing and also you’d be taking care of their payments. We’re in an incredible state of denial.
Anything you’d like so as to add?
This info is sort of delicate within the U.Ok., and we did give loads of thought to learn how to current it on-line and within the paper. Publishing it in long-form allowed for a full sense of context and historical past.
Residents haven’t even begun to course of what it is going to really feel like when the queen dies ― what an occasion it’s going to be. Whether or not you’re pro-monarchy or anti-monarchy, it’s going to change your sense of what this nation is. The demise of the queen is approaching at this second of most insecurity. With the Brexit vote and Scotland probably leaving, it’s an unsettling time. These moments problem your thought of British id.
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