Tears of sadness and accusations of privilege
How some Corby and Kettering people feel about the royal family
Since the Queen died last Thursday there have been thousands of words and TV minutes dedicated to paying tribute to the life of the nation’s longest serving monarch.
With several days of mourning ahead of next Monday’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey, NN Journal reporter Sarah Ward took a wander through the town centres of Kettering and Corby yesterday to ask people’s views about the Queen, the future of the monarchy and the country’s new King Charles III.
“It’s like losing a family member,” Jane Wilson tells me, visibly upset as I ask her what she thinks of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Sheltering from the sudden downpour in the doorway of the Royal Hotel in Market Place, Kettering, a union jack hangs on a lamppost in the background as we chat.
“It is just unsettling. I like the royal family - I think they have done a lot for our country.
The Queen has been a constant - you may have never met her, but she was the good part of Britain.”
A fan of Princess Diana’s - in 1997 along with thousands of others Jane went to see her funeral cortege as it went to her ancestral home in Althorp - she initially did not like the relationship of Charles and Camilla, but she says she has done an about turn in recent years regarding her views on their union.
“She [Camilla] has earned her stripes,” Jane says. “Looking back now, they should have been together from the beginning really. She has just stayed dignified and quiet and helped Charles. If the Queen and the boys can forgive her, who are we to say anything?”
She wonders aloud if she may see another coronation after Charles’, but thinks the reign of his son William, now the Prince of Wales, is where the big changes will come.
“I like Charles, but I would really like to see William and Kate up there. I think they are the real future of the royal family.”
Having come into town especially to sign the book of condolence set up in the council’s offices in Bowling Green Lane, I took a wander down with Jane, 58, across the market place.
Outside the offices underneath a half raised union flag, lie dozens of floral tributes, left by families and local organisations such as Kettering Civic Society.
Inside the offices, a council worker tells me that since the book opened on Saturday there has been a steady stream of people venturing in to leave a permanent memory and message to the late Queen. Next to a framed photograph of the Queen in recent years, and looked over by a larger image of her former majesty in middle age hanging on the far wall, people have been leaving their messages, memories and heartfelt thanks.
Children have also been coming in with their parents and grandparents and drawing pictures of the Queen, familiar to many following the 70th jubilee celebrations just three months ago.
Clive Skelham, 66, who I came across sitting on a bench outside the town’s Carnegie library in Sheep Street, is like Jane, similarly moved by the Queen’s death.
“It is really sad”, he says. “I wouldn’t call myself a monarchist but I’ve been reading all the papers [since the Queen’s death] and watching the news.”
Asked for his views on the new King Charles III, he is not quite sure.
“He is doing alright at the moment, but it remains to be seen. Different people have different ways of doing things but hopefully he will be as good as the Queen.”
In the entrance to the Kino Lounge in Market Square, army veteran Leigh Feltham is with his wife Pippa.
“For most veterans it has hit us hard because she was our boss,” he says. “If you go on every veteran’s social media page, you will see her picture.”
He never met the Queen but has met the country’s new King several times, a number of times during duties with his regiment the 9th/13th Royal Lancers.
“I do think he will do a good job”, he says. “He has been involved with the armed forces for many years and knows how things are done.”
Up until this point I have only spoken with people who have enthusiasm for the long established monarchy which has ruled over the United Kingdom’s people for centuries, save for the eleven years of Oliver Cromwell’s ill fated republic in the mid 17th century.
Rick Partridge, 44, is more apathetic.
“I’m somewhat of an agnostic [sic],” he tells me as I stop him for a quick chat in the Market Square. “It is nice to have them, and I have grown up with them, but it will be interesting to see how the dynamic shifts with Charles as King.
“The monarchy has changed massively [during the Queen’s reign]. Divorce is now of course not such a big thing. But the pomp and ceremony just leaves me cold. It is not something that I engage with.
“But to be honest I am less concerned about the monarchy and more concerned with the massive failings of Boris Johnson and how his party conducted themselves during lockdown. I think Liz Truss [the new prime minister] has a huge uphill struggle to regain some of the humility that has been lost.
“I would say the real significant change within the country needs to come from Downing Street.”
Travelling seven miles down the road to Corby’s town centre, in Corporation Street, I met one woman who has just been to sign the book of condolence and would consider herself a monarchist.
However chatting with 23-year-old Josh Campbell, his views are not so warm to the House of Windsor.
“I think there is a big gap between working people and the queen. We are facing the cost of living crisis right now and it is a bit of a nightmare. I live alone and am facing my electricity bill increasing from £140 a month to £240.
“I’m not keen on the royal family at all. I don’t like the family, the mindset and the history.”
And Gemma Ingelman, is also not a fan of the royals.
“I don’t like how they treated Megan Markle,” she says. “The death of the Queen upset my children and my parents and grandparents are big on the royal family. But I think there needs to be a change. I think the royal family is outdated and they are hugely privileged.”
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