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The new aristocracy of victimhood
The death of the queen this year marked the beginning of the new identitarian age.
By Mark Jones - Cropped from Flickr version: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rambomuscles/27537241539, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75224825
The phrase ‘end of an era’ is overused. But the death this year of the queen, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, represented far more than just the passing of one old aristocrat. The queen’s funeral in September marked a generational shift – a transition from one set of values, one way of making sense of the world, to another. Her great age – the queen lived to be 96 – meant that the new values had already gained ground during her time, but her very presence had held off their complete victory.
It has been three months since the queen’s death. Since then, Buckingham Palace has been engulfed in a race row and Harry and Meghan have told all on Netflix. Already, words like service, duty, stoicism, selflessness, formality and reserve seem like vague nods to a bygone age.
If the queen represented an old set of values, Harry and Meghan best embody the new era. The two generations of royals could not be more different. Out goes the stiff upper lip, in comes public emoting. ‘Never complain, never explain’ has been replaced by a six-hour Netflix ‘pity party’. Service to others has been redefined as sharing mental-health struggles. Where the queen spoke of nationhood, the Sussexes speak of victimhood. The queen kept her cancer diagnosis secret until her death. We read about Meghan’s miscarriage in her column for the New York Times.
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