AMONG ALL THE NECESSARY PROTOCOLS, EVEN ENGLISH BEES GET A FORMAL NOTIFICATION OF QUEEN’S DEATH
The English is many, many things. Many of them are controversial when it comes to living history. Then there’s all the media coverage and people’s international fascination with English royalty. But then there’s protocol and tradition. When it comes to seminal moments like Queen Elizabeth’s passing, it can be hard to separate the two. Because her passing has triggered an incredible array of necessary actions. I won’t even try to give a shape to that in explanation here. But one in particular caught my eye, and that is how even English bees need a formal notification of her death.
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PALACE BEEKEEPER LITERALLY HAD TO FORMALLY INFORM EVERY BEE HIVE OF QUEEN’S PASSING
And of course this isn’t a joke! Though this degree of tradition might seem a bit overwrought. The Queen’s passing created a cascade of formal protocols, each as important as the other. You might think that wouldn’t be the case. Except that all of them have to be done. And that’s why the official Palace beekeeper, John Chapple, had the task of telling the English bees. No, really, he had to give all the royal bees an official notification of her passing! He literally went to each royal bee hive and inform tens of thousands of them of her death at both Buckingham Palace and the Clarence House.
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And, of course, there’s a mild sort of mourning pomp involved as well. Chapple first wrapped each hive with black ribbons before telling them the news. Long live the Queen and all that. Then he had to inform them all that they had a new master who would look over them, King Charles III. According to Chapple, the message to the English bees went like this: “The mistress is dead, but don’t you go. Your master will be a good master to you.” But, to be fair, this isn’t totally unique to the English Royal family by any means.
The tradition of telling the bees goes back many centuries. It may have first sprung from Celtic mythology. But the tradition really took off in both the United States and Western Europe. Bees always get informed of any major to-do’s in their beekeeper’s life! Including death.