The British media sneered at public outpourings of grief in North Korea when Kim Jong-il died.
It suggested that if the tears were genuine they were absurd—but in any case unwilling people were compelled to go along with the line.
The cult of personality that dominates North Korea is thoroughly unpleasant. But the same columnists who snigger at North Korea celebrated mass weeping in the streets over Princess Diana and the Queen Mother.
And this too was state sponsored. The BBC has an official protocol for the deaths of “Category One” royals. Sombre music, black clothes and fawning coverage replace all normal broadcasting. So you can expect more of the same for the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles or even William when they die.
They may even try to recreate the atmosphere with the state funeral for Margaret Thatcher.
The more unpopular the government, the more it needs to find some way of wedding the poor to it. Funerals and festivals of remembrance are a tried and trusted method. As in North Korea, these are the events where it is easiest to compel dissenters to fall into line.