Why the world grieves 'grandmother' Queen Elizabeth – even anti-monarchists

20 September 2022

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has caused a tsunami of emotions from individuals around the world – even from those from anti-monarchy camps.

It's a phenomenon that can be attributed to the power of the media and our perception of public figures as almost family. That's according to CQUniversity's psychology expert Dr Adam Gerace.

"In some ways' we see public figures as similar to how we see other people in our lives. Through the power of the media' they become relatable' we develop an affection for them' and we can view them almost as family members'" Dr Gerace explains.

"Even if one is not a supporter' public figures who have been around for so long' such as the Queen' have often been the backdrop to so many of our experiences – they've always been there.

"They remind us of times in our lives and perhaps people that are no longer with us' such as our grandparents.

"In the case of the Queen' particularly in later years' she was seen by many almost as a grandmother."

Dr Gerace has looked at studies into the death of another global figure' the late US President John F. Kennedy' and while his unexpected death is different from Queen Elizabeth II's passing' it does highlight the fact people do grieve for these identities as if they knew them personally – again' even if they don't consider themselves a supporter of the particular public figure.

"Perhaps when such prolific or iconic people pass away' this reminds us that everyone does eventually have their time – there are seasons for everything."

Dr Gerace predicts that after the initial global grief' we will see a transformation for supporters to a gratitude for the Queen and a focus on memories' similar to the processing of grief that we see in personal relationships.

At the same time' he believes it is likely that questions about the future of the monarchy will be raised by those supporting changes to government systems or moves towards a republic.