LETTER : Royal Family fails nation in its grief

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Sir: Whenever there is a debate about the monarchy's future, the usual suspects trot out to tell us sagely that the Royal Family is an invaluable focus at times of national crisis, a rallying point for our collective anxieties. But as this week's events prove to be the greatest emotional crisis since the war, where are the royals now?

Where are these assorted military princes and dukes offering some recognition of the grief and affection for the mother of the future King? Many expressions of sympathy for the young Princes have gone unacknowledged. Do the Princes even know the concern they are eliciting? Or are they Princes in the Tower, locked away from this no doubt embarrassing display of public emotion "for their own good"?

The frozen silence which has followed the dismally inadequate notice issued by the Queen and her eldest son, adopting the stilted formality used for the victims of a train crash or distant earthquake, explodes the myth that, in a crisis, we need the comforting presence of old-style royals. So it should not surprise them if a growing proportion of a bereft nation decides that, under any circumstances, it doesn't really need them at all.