Mr Blair was able to successfully walk the space between word and act due to the clear signals emanating from the people’s expression of grief at Lady Diana’s untimely demise. The funeral was practically stage-managed by the government, and the hillocks of flowers in front of Buckingham palace combined with the hints dropped in Mr Blair’s speeches pressured the Queen into coming from Balmoral to Buckingham for the funeral. She was not even allowed to passively disapprove of Lady Diana’s manner of living and dying. There were open tears and passionate speeches during the funeral ceremonies, uniting the high and mighty with the lowly and humble. Complete strangers just hugged and wept, and Lady Diana’s brother, also known as “champagne Charlie” made an impassioned speech the contents of which clearly criticised the royal family.
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Elton John composed and sang Lady Diana’s eulogy, Candle in the Wind, (putting Marilyn Monroe at par with a Royal) the translation of which was carried on the front page of the prestigious French daily, Le Monde, while not a whisper of reserve escaped from the Royal household to question the appropriateness of Elton John’s sexual preference. There was disappointment from the public about the Royal Family’s dry-eyed stiff upper lip reaction to the tragedy, and the courtiers gave no press statements on the subject. When the public espied Camilla Parker Bowles, she was liberally assaulted with bread-rolls. All these were signs that the Britain of that day was no longer the Britain of preceding years.
However, before Victoria became Queen-Empress of the British Empire, the British might not have been described as touchy-feely, but they certainly were not Victorian in the sense of the term we now use. Victorianism is not a fundamental cultural or genetic trait of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. The words bawdy and raunchy had never lost their relevance since the Shakespeare. The Elizabethan age was the times of Shakespeare and Marlowe, when what is sexual innuendo today was explicitly expressed on the stage, and moreover, appreciated. We may go further back to the times of the legendary Robin Hood and his Merry Men, when, despite the religious fervour inspired by the Crusades, merriment was a sought after virtue. The British were a rambunctious, hard-drinking lot of tavern brawlers who became successful pirates before being legitimised as corsairs. The tradition of merriment continued to be appreciated through low-brow soap operas and street artists, and has now been democratised in an increasingly heterogeneous society in television sit-coms such as Benny Hill, Fawlty Towers, Yes Prime Minister, The New Statesman, East Enders, Coronation Street and Goodness Gracious Me.