“DON’T criticise what you can’t understand,” Bob Dylan told us 58 years ago, when Elizabeth Windsor had been Queen of England for 12 years.

Now that she is dead, if I were to heed Mr Dylan’s advice I would say nothing about the national mourning for her, because I am baffled by it.

While Mr Dylan, happily, is still with us, I am old enough to remember the public responses to the deaths of other icons, such as Elvis Presley and John Lennon, with news footage of people who did not know the deceased personally sobbing as though they were grieving a personal loss. There were people who mocked the mourners, but the grief they felt could at least be explained and understood, even by those who did not experience it.

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Even as a child, I understood the explanation that many people loved the songs recorded by these artists, and that they identified the songs with the singers, and so they imagined a connection between themselves and the singers (what is called, in the era of social media, a parasocial relationship). So they felt devastated by what to them was a personal loss. They would never hear a new song sung by their favourite singer, never see them live on stage, and they had lost any romantic fantasy about possibly meeting them.

Even though they were mourning a person they had imagined rather than the person who had died, it made enough sense for them to be pitied or mocked.

But the mourning for Elizabeth Windsor makes no sense at all.

What is the loss you are grieving? Not her friendship, because you did not know her. Not her songs, because she never recorded any. Not her books, because she never wrote any. Not her art, because she never made any. Not her social or political achievements, because she never did anything. She breathed air, ingested food and fluids, produced offspring, occupied a little more than five feet of space, and waved at crowds of strangers. And that is the sum total of her public life.

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But people stand in line for more than 12 hours to briefly view her closed coffin. On the day of her funeral in England, Scottish medical practices, supermarkets and food banks will close, because it is somehow disrespectful to a funeral in another nation for people here to get treated by a doctor, buy groceries, or get fed when hungry and destitute.

It is obviously about national identity, and about nationalism, in a nation that is arguably in its final days, and inarguably in the worst crisis it has experienced in 100 years. But what is the nation mourning? What has been lost? What are people standing in line enduring such an arduous wait in order to see? If you say you loved the Queen, how did you love her? What did you love? Who did you love? I do not know, do not understand even slightly, and am chilled by the suspicion that the mourners do not understand either.

Greum Maol Stevenson

UNLIKE James Duncan (Letters, Sep 16) I agree entirely with the premise of The National’s front page on Tuesday querying whether the UK has gone mad. It assuredly has.

I don’t believe The National’s intent was to query any individual’s respect for the Queen’s passing. All of us who have suffered the loss of a mother or grandmother can relate to the hurt on a personal basis.

But to conflate such emotions for the most privileged member of society with the need for Scots to determine their own future, the future of their children and the generations to come, well that to me seems quite insane.

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Yes, Mr Duncan, we are interested in achieving independence and no, the interests are not just of those of us with a republican view. The passing of Queen Elizabeth is just that, the past. Those striving for independence are only interested in the future. Independence delivers the future we choose. If that’s to include a monarchical head of state, then that is something Scots will decide after independence is regained. But sentimentality for the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth should play no part in that decision.

How does Mr Duncan know that republicanism has never had a majority in Scotland? The question has never been asked of Scots, indeed the UK has denied us the right to ask the question, yet the polls show that the popularity of the monarchy in Scotland has never been lower.

During Queen Elizabeth’s reign the lives of working people, who form the majority of the electorate, have only got worse. While she may not have been directly responsible for the politics of “her” government, she clearly had no influence to bear. Why should we fund a system where the head of state has no influence to improve our lives? Isn’t such emasculated heredity monarchy completely superfluous to our needs in the 21st century?

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If Mr Duncan and his wife subscribe to The National because he believes it will help bring about independence for Scotland, then how has that in any way changed with the front-page premise he objects to?

The nation is most definitely caught up in emotion. As the headline says, Britain has gone over the top. We’re witnessing Lloyd Webber’s description of the obsessive mania of Eva Peron’s death all over again. The media are promoting monarchy mania and Stepford-like subjects are responding accordingly.

“Forgive them my lord, for they know no better.”

We need to settle down, and hopefully things will after the funeral. Queen Elizabeth will become the tourist attraction monarchists always claimed she was to justify her privileged position. Meanwhile, we Scots need to focus on how Westminster government fails us, and the only way we can redress this is through independence.

Jim Taylor

THE new Proclaimers album could not have been released at a more appropriate time.

Cameron Crawford