by Colin Campbell
IN 2018 Highland Council was accused of making “tasteless” preparation for the death when it happened of the most senior members of the Royal family.
According to newspaper reports at the time: “Macabre ‘mourning kits’ that include black bordered photographs and books of condolence have been sent out by a council in a ‘tasteless’ preparation for the deaths of the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles. The boxed kits, sent to shops and community centres, include framed photographs of the senior Royals, draped in sombre black ribbon. Also in the boxes, distributed by Highland Council, are a black tablecloth, a flower vase and a book of condolence to be signed by members of the public.
“They come with a step-by-step guide to on how to use the kit to create an ‘accessible’ but ‘discreet’ place for the public to mourn the ‘death of a royal family member’.
“Although both the Government and local officials across the country have longstanding plans for dealing with the demise of national figures such as the Queen, they are not normally activated until the death of the individual.
“Royal expert and biographer Penny Junor branded the council’s actions bizarre as well as pointless. She said: “This is in very bad taste and beyond bizarre. Charles is not yet even 70 years old. It is both premature and pointless to send out these kits now. The council should apologise to the Queen and move whoever made the decision to another line of work.”
A Highland Council spokeswoman confirmed at the time that kits had been sent out to communities, apparently following guidelines from the umbrella body for councils in Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).
Whatever happened, I wonder, to those supposedly ‘macabre mourning kits’?
Perhaps they are lying forgotten in the backroom of some shops or gathering dust in forgotten boxes in community centres.
What may have seemed “tasteless and macabre” three years ago does not seem so now.
Whether or not they will re-emerge and be used appropriately for their purpose after the death of Prince Philip remains to be seen. We may hope so.
Because in making careful advance preparation for the death of a senior member of the Royal family, as of now it very much seems Highland Council got it exactly right, and their critics got it all wrong.