Welcome to my day: 12 September 2022 – a time to reflect…

In my professional life, I have been expected to answer incoming calls with “Her Majesty’s…” and, for most of my thirty-six years of service, that’s what I’ve done, with a degree of pride, both in my organisation but also a reflection of the fact that I serve the monarch, albeit through her government. It is slightly odd to realise that I’m going to have to change that.

But change, I guess, is inevitable. And, whilst intellectually it was obvious that the Queen would eventually die, there was that curious sense that she wouldn’t because, what it would be like without her? And now we get to find out.

Across Suffolk, like in so many rural counties, the proclamation of a new king was read in the county town and then conveyed to the towns of the county, to be read again two and a half hours later by local mayors. And, at this point, apparent anachronisms like the High Sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant, suddenly rolled into action, all knee breeches and ruffs and buckled shoes, as though they had merely awaiting the opportunity to be useful all along. We British do do ceremony so very well.

In my own small village, a book of condolences was ready and waiting at the Parish church, and will doubtless attract a decent number of signatures and comment from those who, regardless of their private views on monarchy in general, had grown rather fond of a Queen who, despite seeming rather remote, did undoubtedly demonstrate a sense of duty and, occasionally, humanity.

The role of a monarch, especially a constitutional one, is a bit vague, and the powers that they have are increasingly soft. King Charles III can, theoretically, do all sorts of things but his power is rather constrained by the expectation that he won’t actually do any of them. What role will he take on? How will that be affected by the will of an elected government? Only time will tell.

As has been our policy so far, we’re taking a cautious view in terms of “politics as usual”, at least until the funeral on Monday. I acknowledge that, for many readers, that’s quite frustrating. And it is for us too – we’d be much happier publishing articles about upcoming Conference debates or events. But it isn’t “politics as usual”, but instead a coming together at a time of instability. And it’s led to some difficult decisions for those we elected to manage both Conference and the Party whom, personally, I’m less inclined to second guess.

So, please bear with us. We’ve never had to deal with anything quite like this before and, unlike those impacted by Operation London Bridge, we don’t have a plan ready to be implemented at a moment’s notice.

Thank you for reading Liberal Democrat Voice, and for your contributions to the ongoing debate. And, when normal service returns, we’ll welcome thoughtful, mutually respectful debate once again.

* Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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