As many have noted, this period of national mourning has a peculiarly British tinge, with the rain, the queueing, the marmalade sandwiches. People stood through the night, in a miles-long line that ran through central London, to pay their last respects to the Queen, lying in state. The TV coverage was almost soothing in its bland repetition, and its sombre reverence unavoidable.
For those of us of a republican leaning, the whole thing can feel bizarre and alienating, but for many others, the depth of their feeling may have caught them by surprise. “We have a relationship with these public figures,” says Julia Samuel, a psychotherapist who specialises in bereavement. The Queen, in particular, has “been the backdrop of our lives and this connecting thread. She’s the symbol of the mother of the nation and symbol of this idea of predictability, in such a changing, turbulent world. So we have a feeling of loss.” Precisely because of the Queen’s unknowability, we project our emotions on to her. “There’s a feeling of security in having a relationship with someone, particularly if you don’t actually know them, because you can put on to them what you need,” says Samuel.