The British are mourning the fate they have chosen for themselves

The British are mourning the fate they have chosen for themselves


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/16/when-mourning-ends-reality-will-hit-hard-european-journalists-on-britains-mood


“Since the abolition of the monarchy after the first world war, Austrians, generally, are quite happy republicans – at least since the end of the Third Reich. But all Austrian TV channels have been broadcasting the scenes in Britain live. In Vienna, the former capital of the Habsburg empire, flags will fly at half mast during the Queen’s funeral next Monday. Even Vienna’s coffee shops, once havens of rebellious intellectuals, seem to be filled with people talking about how much they miss the Queen. 
It is not so much monarchist nostalgia and a longing for Austria’s own legendary Empress Sisi that drives this astonishing interest. Rather in times of Zeitenwende, when nothing seems to be the same and a nuclear war inflicted by Putin seems a possibility, a pause to remember better times is a welcome distraction. 
The deeper outpouring of grief in the UK is understandable but seems also to unlock something else: grief, stress and sorrow over a fate the Disunited Kingdom has chosen for itself. 
The Queen’s funeral will mark the moment when Britain also bids farewell to the country as it was once known. The British empire used to anchor the UK firmly in the world. Later, as part of the EU it had international influence and remains still one of the biggest economies of the world. 
But questions hang over all of that. The empire is increasingly seen as a colonial crime and the strains of Brexit might tear the union itself apart. Scotland seeks independence. Northern Ireland is moving closer to the republic in the south. Having taken itself out of the daily business of the EU, Britain’s place in Europe is weaker. On the world stage it has to fight for attention as a mid-ranking trading nation going it alone. 
A country claiming to be Global Britain has, meanwhile, since Brexit, become a narrow minded, anti-immigrant, internally divided society. Driven by a sect-like group of conservative Brexiters it has ended up with a minister of energy who is a climate sceptic. It tells you a lot about the state of the UK that Jacob Rees-Mogg is more reactionary in his environmental policies than the new king Charles III. 

Tessa Szyszkowitz, UK correspondent for Austrian weekly newspapers Falter and Profil

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