Queen Elizabeth II is an important cultural mascot in a way that Americans can’t understand, and her death will have more implications for Great Britain and the world than simply who will take over the monarchy.
That’s according to Ian Dunt, columnist at the inews newspaper and host of the podcasts Oh God, What Now? and Origin Story, who tells hosts Molly Jong-Fast and Andy Levy on this episode of The New Abnormal political podcast that the country faces multiple crises as it deals with the queen’s passing.
“She’s a larger cultural experience than just being the queen,” Dunt says.
“It’s very hard talking to Americans about it… it’s just on a national emotional level. It’s quite hard to even begin to comprehend what it will do to us.
“It’s about your sense of country and your sense of identity within the country. And of course that is taking place in a country that functionally is completely unable to talk about its emotions, so all of that will be a very strange process. Today you just get this sort of distant thunder of that emotional process. You can hear it, but obviously it, you know, it hasn’t hit.”
Dunt said the U.K.’s new prime minister, Liz Truss—whom he describes as “intellectually, almost completely absent,” “very boring to listen to,” and “so profoundly tedious”—not only faces a tide of cultural change but must also deal with a country on edge, with an “incredible” inflation problem, a failing health system, and industrial disputes across the landscape.
“We are in genuinely real trouble here,” he says. “The kind of energy bills that the people are talking about, you know, £3,500 [$4,050] a [year] going up to £5,000 a [year]. That kills people. The NHS, the National Health Service, is in a state of complete disrepair… and it’s not even winter yet.
“You look around, there is nothing that is working in this country. Like absolutely nothing. It feels in a really advanced state of decline. I don’t want to keep coming back to the queen, but it feels almost like it’s written for a BBC drama, for that to be happening right now. There’s a proper sense of national crisis and a prime minister in place who doesn’t show any of the intellectual moral capacity to deal with it.
“It’s pretty fraught stuff at the moment.”