‘It’s not a tragedy’: This is how students are responding to the Queen’s death

‘Don’t get me started about that marmalade sandwich!!’

It has been over a week since the death of Queen Elizabeth, and it’s about time we hear what students really think. We’ve been flooded with information about the national mourning period, but are students actually mourning the 96-year-old royal family member?

Earlier this week the royal procession took place, and the Queen is now in Westminster Hall where she is currently lying in state. This lasts for four days, and people have been queuing for up to 30 hours, with the queue currently suspended because it’s reached capacity. However despite the hundreds of thousands queueing, there don’t appear to be very many students in the queue.

One young person who has attended one of the processions was a 22-year-old from Edinburgh. He was arrested for breaching the peace on The Royal Mile, by allegedly shouting “you’re a sick old man” at Prince Andrew. He has denied the allegation against him but won’t face trial after reaching an out of court settlement. Whilst the 22-year-old has since been charged, Prince Andrew has been appointed as a council of state by King Charles, which means he can step in as caretaker King should Charles fall unwell or is out of the country. Another student, 22-year-old Edinburgh Uni student Mariángela was arrested for holding a sign saying “fuck imperialism, abolish monarchy”.

For lots of students, the magnitude of the death of the Queen and the longevity with which she served as our monarch isn’t felt because we’ve only known her as an old lady. We’ve watched on bemused as mourners leave an abundance of marmalade sandwiches outside Buckingham Palace while food banks are set to close on the day of the Queen’s funeral. We are experiencing hospital appointments cancelled, funerals told they can’t take place on Monday, and all because the Queen’s death has brought this country to a standstill. The Tab has spoken to six different students from across the UK to understand how students really feel about the death of the Queen. Here’s exactly what they had to say:

‘The country cannot stop, she was 96 years old, it was not a tragedy’

Lucia, a recent graduate from The University of Nottingham, explained she feels for the royal family in that they have lost a loved one, however, she is “strongly against the monarchy and disagrees with the morals that it portrays”.

Lucia expressed how surprised she is at the response from the country, and how many people genuinely cared so deeply that the Queen had died. One particular response Lucia has said she found ridiculous is that other funerals have been canceled on the day of the Queen’s funeral. “By canceling funerals it further promotes the idea that the monarchy is seen and portrayed as being above and superior to the general population. Just because of the family she was born into somehow makes her death more important than others,” she said.

Lucia went on to explain that her family are Greek Cypriot, which is a former British colony. She believes the monarchy should have been abolished long before the Queen died, and feels this on a personal level due to the impact the empire had on her country.

Lucia also spoke about how programmes like Netflix’s The Crown, portray the Queen as “a cute old lady” and how on a wider scale the media “humanises” the history and background of her reign.

‘Charles has been a vocal Climate activist for over 40 years, and an amplifier for important environmentalists’

Joe, a 21-year-old Cambridge student, agrees that the history of the monarchy can no longer be swept under the rug, but he points out the importance and practicality of having a monarch who cares about environmental change in the face of a political party and a Prime Minister who doesn’t.

“You’d like to think that our elected officials are best suited to govern,” he said. “But the last four Tory governments have driven us to a rollback of the British right to protest, no climate action, and record inflation with no plan to pay for it besides borrowing. The fact is that our democratic system is failing our generation. And you know what, even though he’s unelected, Charles has been a vocal climate activist for over 40 years, and an amplifier for important environmentalists.

“He’s actually shown he cares about our generation and our planet in a way our politicians haven’t. So even though I cringe at the hereditary system of the monarchy, I am grateful and hopeful that Charles will use his soft power and lobbying influence in parliament to limit the havoc that the Tories are wreaking on the environment.”

‘The Queen was the nation’s rock’

Henry, who is in his third year at the University of St Andrews takes a different viewpoint to others. He argues the response to the passing of the Queen is not unjustified and is in fact justified by the sheer amount of people at the procession and going to see her coffin.

He called the Queen a “figure of stability and neutrality in a political climate that was constantly changing and so divisive,” he said. “For those choosing this time to throw hate at the grieving royal family, I say look at the news and the millions of people queuing up to see her coffin. She brings, not everyone, but a lot of people hope and for that I admire her.”

‘[The monarchy] represents a lot of pain for a lot of people’

21-year-old Mia is a final year student at Leeds Uni. She pointed out her indifference towards the passing of the Queen. Whilst she isn’t rejoicing in it, she doesn’t feel any sense of personal loss, as many seem to in the country right now.

When asked about how she feels about people’s reactions to the event, Mia said: I think it’s quite silly and highlights a sort of selective empathy.

“The Queen fundamentally acted as a figurehead for this institution that is synonymous with colonialism and empire and has historically perpetrated a lot of suffering. Some people don’t seem to want to recognise that and I think that shows a sort of hypocrisy; there is compassion for this woman because of the comfort she represented but not compassion for the many people whose lived reality has been actively altered by the horrors of empire.

“So I do think it’s a bit pathetic to see weeping when these people won’t cry about many other issues – and don’t get me started about that fucking marmalade sandwich!!”

Mia went on to explain how the monarchy, in her eyes, is pointless and redundant, regardless of whether the Queen had died or not. “What does it actually represent other than an archaic model of pure classism and colonialism? I think it’s very outdated and the fact people want to hold onto it so badly just kind of shows the pervasive ties of things like an empire and a desire to keep what feels ‘safe’ and ‘British’ as opposed to what is good for a global community.”

I respect her immensely and believe she should be honoured’

Malek from the University of St Andrews had a short and sweet comment when asked about his thoughts: Although I am a foreigner and therefore a bit more biased, I believe she was a great woman from a different era who dealt with a rapidly changing world all while surrounded by an unstable family, and for that, I respect her immensely and believe she should be honoured”

‘I didn’t realise the Queen was as complaisant as she was!’ 

Leeds Uni graduate, Peter, claimed when she first died, he was a bit confused about how to feel. He liked the showmanship of the royal family, and the positive effects this has on the British economy, however overall he feels negatively towards the monarchy. He explained how he didn’t care about the monarchy to begin with, but the death has made him consider some of the points critics of the royal family have made.

Peter thinks there are some aspects of what the Queen did that are good, like how she led the nation during the Covid pandemic, and the symbolic power of the picture of her alone at Prince Philips’s funeral. However, he felt annoyed with the claim that the Queen “lived a life of service to her country”, exclaiming bluntly: “What did she do? Seems like a cushdy life to me”.

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