In historical and fantasy fiction, the struggle for power is so ruthless that it borders on fratricides and patricides, so that members of royal families are more often seen rejoicing over a bereavement, if it involves an upgrade of their status, rather than suffering from it. But in today’s monarchies things are very different, and every time an iconic character leaves – from the Queen Mother to Prince Philip, to the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth -, one cannot help but notice that the royals never cry in public, and one wonders why. The question arises in recent days because many have noticed that, even if King Charles III struggled a lot to maintain the aplomb, the only one to have openly shed tears in front of the photographers’ lenses seems to have been Prince Harry. The younger son of Princess Diana and King Charles has now embraced the role of enfant terrible of the family, so the gesture may have seemed yet another rebellion against the label. But some doubted that she could only afford it because she resigned as a senior member of the family, just as her mother broke down in tears after visiting a hospice in 1992 after separating from her husband (after being blamed for doing it even nine years ago), as if there was a “law”, a rule, something that forbids them to show themselves in tears, until they have nothing more to lose in doing so. How are things, really?
First of all, we must take into account the confidentiality of the British who never feel too comfortable in showing their feelings and, conversely, are very surprised by the freedom with which in the peoples further south of them we cry a lot, sometimes in a very blatant. Then, it is not accurate to say that the members of the British royal family never cry. In the third season of The Crown there is an episode in which it is hypothesized that the queen needed to fake tears in public because she is insensitive to everything, an idea that comes from the stoic attitude she has often maintained in the face of the most serious tragedies. Instead, the mourned Elizabeth let herself be overwhelmed more than once by pain or emotion, albeit very moderately. She did so in 1997 when, after 40 years of honorable service, the glorious royal yacht Britannia was retired and, during the ceremony, Elizabeth was overwhelmed by the wave of ship-related memories. Similarly, 2002 was a difficult year for her as she lost Princess Margaret and her queen mother, which made her visit to the Field of Remeberance to St. Margaret’s Church to associate her sister’s name with memories she had with them during the war, and photographers captured the tear on her cheek. In addition, she was moved in 2016, during a service for the fallen of the regiment of the duchy of Lancaster and on various other occasions. The queen, beyond all, was very shy, at first she was simply petrified, then she had many years to practice the art of hiding her emotions from her. It almost seemed that not being able / wanting to give free rein to feelings during the funeral of a loved one, he kept in store the pain to spend on the first occasion in which he could give it a collective value, as if it were selfish to suffer only for one of his. Dear. However, there is no rule that prohibits royalty from crying in public, even if it has become a protocol rule because it reinforces the image of solemnity and (almost supernatural) superiority of a lineage. literally anointed by the Lord, as we will see at the coronation of Charles when he receives the sacred oil. Public displays of political emotions and opinions are simply not part of the role of the monarch, and consequently, of his family. Whether they are tears or even what the Anglo-Saxons call PDA, Public Displays of Affection, the demonstrations of affection in public that make the moments in which William and Kate hold hands, or in which the Queen and Prince Philip have exchanged, very rare a kiss. Like all the rules of the protocol, even that of cries can be broken. But in that (almost) perfect machine that is the British Crown, even the violation of a rule happens preferably when it involves a certain amount of popularity points, and never the other way around, because in the economy of the image of royalty, nothing goes to waste. .