I am sure I speak for most people when I say that the last couple of weeks have been an extraordinary time. That the Queen is no longer with us cannot be a surprise given her age and length of service, but nevertheless the effect on the whole country has been deeply affecting.
Practically everyone has felt a sense of loss, but this has been accompanied by an increase in the sense of community. That queue to pay respects at the Lying-in State saw so much of the best of Britain, as hundreds of thousands of people cheerfully braved the cold and sheer time it was taking them to get to Westminster Hall.
Inside the Hall the silence made the atmosphere very special. The sight of the crown on top of the coffin was itself both historic and moving, and the never-ending stream of people from all over the country paying their respects was the greatest possible tribute to a woman who has been a part of our lives since before most of us were born.
The key to the success of the monarchy is the combination of continuity and the ability to adapt to changing times. King Charles has already shown that he is alive to the need to keep the crown attuned to the 21st century, and the decision to include the Queen’s great grand-children in the funeral procession was a good one, as it reminds us that the monarchy will outlast all of us.
I hope we can retain some of this new-found sense of community in the difficult times we face. Of course there is a time and place for fierce political debate but it is important to be reminded that there is more that unites us than divides us, and that as country out final thanks to Queen Elizabeth should be to remember that.