THE former monarch lies in Westminster Hall – not unlike the various prime ministers to have come and gone under her reign who have lied in the nearby House of Commons – but before you’ll ever have a chance to set eyes on Lizzie’s coffin, first you must endure … The Queue.

People are born in The Queue. People die in The Queue. For some, The Queue is all they have ever known. Even the knowledge that it could take up to 24 hours to reach the end of The Queue wasn’t enough to deter more punters from joining the nearly five-mile line.

The procession to slowly shuffle past the Queen’s coffin is one of the more bizarre outcomes of being raised in a Kingdom that still believes in fairytale princesses and trickle-down economics – though that’s a bedtime story you wouldn’t want one particular prince close enough to your kids to tell.

It’s hard to say whether The Queue’s baffling length is down to a genuine groundswell of mourning for the Queen, or if it’s the same 200 people endlessly rejoining the back of the line for another chance to take a peep at the monarch, like watching a corpse on a carousel.

Used wristbands from those who slogged through the 13-hour wait to spend a couple of minutes looking at a wooden box were selling on eBay for up to £200 until recently, making The Queue a better use of time for anyone on minimum wage who would have made significantly less had they spent that time working an extended shift instead.

And then, of course, there’s the pull of having “been there” that could make the wait appealing to some worried about missing out on a historic event. But for whatever reason that people may have joined The Queue, it doesn’t really tell us much when put into the context of the UK’s total population.

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Still, The Queue will be one of the enduring impressions of Elizabeth’s reign. For years to come, republicans will have this moment shoved down our throats to justify the continued existence of the institution of monarchy.

We will never again be allowed to forget those few days when some people came together to share a collective moment of grief and pre-prepared statements on the Queen’s various achievements; statements which paid sufficient homage to her reign without actually ever defining just what it is she supposedly did to deserve it.

However, there are far more appropriate moments from the last week that ought to be remembered instead as the defining moment of this period of enforced solemnity. For me, it was Charles’s visit to Wales that should stick most clearly in our minds.

Pressing his way along a small crowd of royalists, Union flags waving in celebration, the new king was confronted by a protester who told him: “While we struggle to heat our homes, we have to pay for your parade.” Charles’s response was to simply sigh and turn away.

Because to an aristocrat like Charles, the needs and concerns of ordinary people in the UK come second to his perceived god-given right to rule over them. To someone like Charles, who has only ever been coddled and supported by Britain’s class system, people like you, me and that protester are as insignificant as any other piece of background scenery in his stage-managed jaunt around the four nations.

Conservatives and royalists can call this a moment of unity all they like, but the propagandisation of the Queen’s death is a sticking plaster applied with a smile to a bleeding stump where someone’s arm used to be.

Prior to Elizabeth’s demise, Scotland and the rest of the UK were in the midst of a renaissance of union activity. The decision to call off strike action by unions when they had momentum behind them was, in my opinion, deeply foolish and one of the rare examples where the oft-touted “it’s what she would have wanted” may actually apply.

After all, Buckingham Palace has a history of offering jobs at below minimum-wage rates. And while the Palace claimed that an incident of just such a vacancy was published “in error” earlier this year, former staffers have revealed that low wages appear to be part and parcel for service to the monarch – with pride in working for the elite expected to make up for a pay packet that almost guarantees living in poverty for any workers in London.

The pomp and glamour of a new king during a period of economic collapse is a distraction at best; one that anecdotally I can say is driving even those who feel neutral about the monarchy to begin to question what it’s all about.

Behind the scenes, the worst of conservatism is using this temporary resurgence of British nationalist feeling to push through some truly nasty policy. Fracking is back on the table in England. Human rights are under threat. Tory party ties to far-right US groups continue to be pushed into the spotlight. And all the while the police are doing their best to quell dissent and keep all eyes fixed on the political fireworks at the beginning of the reign of Charles.

When the smoke clears, what will be left if we don’t continue to resist?