The Mandela Effect & the Queen’s Death

   Podcast Transcripts

Transcript of OnionUnlimited podcast episode 088

HELLO AND WELCOME TO EPISODE 88 OF ONIONUNLIMITED—THE PODCAST. I’m your host, Daniel Torridon. In this episode, I’ll be discussing the Mandela Effect. I’ll be taking a look at some of the YouTube comments I’ve received this week. And I’ll be considering the Queen’s death and what it means—or doesn’t mean—to me personally.

So, let’s start today with the Mandela Effect, This refers to a situation in which large masses of people believe an event occurred when it simply didn’t. This is a really weird one!

The term “Mandela Effect” was first coined in 2009 by a paranormal researcher and writer called Fiona Broome. Broome was at a conference talking about how she remembered Nelson Mandela’s death in a South African prison in the 1980s. Others too remembered hearing about his death on the news and I personally recall it, but the thing is, it never happened. Nelson Mandela didn’t die in the 1980s in a prison. He was released in 1990 and lived to 2013. Now when I first heard this I realised, of course, it must be true, yet I also had this other memory of Mandela’s death which was really strange and something that I never could really explain.

People sharing a collective experience that never occurred became known as the Mandela Effect and it extends to other significant events, some of which I will discuss in this episode—so stay tuned. But first, let’s take a look at some of the YouTube comments I’ve received this week. There have been some really good ones.

John Sanders commented on episode 53, My Ex-Wife Finally Woke Up! It’s quite a lengthy comment, but I feel it’s worth reading:

“4th generation born-in. Gay. Shunned. Diagnosed with c-PTSD. My decision to leave was scary. I was 25 and had no idea what was out in the world. My employment was tied to my parents—my employees were JW. One day, while being shunned at work I had enough. I flipped over the checkout counter and desks as I left, heading to Seattle. It was a dramatic scene but to me, it did not feel dramatic enough and it ended badly as I was forced to stop at an emergency room with a debilitating anxiety attack. The nurse asked me if I was on drugs and I remember feeling so ashamed that she was thinking that of me, as I uncontrollably shook and wept without being able to form clear words. After explaining my story they gave me some pills in case I had another attack and a hospital nun came to my room and told me that God would judge my parents harshly for this. I spent the next week at home by myself, curtains pulled in the dark, not sure what the next step was. I was unemployed and without a degree. I had just broken up with my boyfriend as he had his own trauma and was slipping into drug use. A crisis counsellor at the The Trevor Project gave me some advice on letting go of my family and building my new life. Good things were ahead! The communication skills I learned from [the] ministry school and field service were more valued than I realized. I secured a career that provided a good income. Economically independent, I no longer worried about money. I started meeting other people like me and just had fun for a while. I chose to forget about the religion. I dated and learned what traits were important to me in another person. I partied. I travelled internationally. I met my husband of 22 years. We run a business together and life is not perfect but it is good. I have learned a lot about myself and the world I live in. I have come full circle in that I was accepted as a volunteer crisis counsellor for The Trevor Project, the crisis hotline that helped me. Indoctrination from birth is difficult and I still see ex-JW therapist [and] a life coach to clear culty remnants in my internal dialogue that can reflect in my outward behaviour. I sometimes still catch my inner-voice thinking I am more special or deserving than the next person, and I take the time to acknowledge the ridiculousness of it. I know there will be a day when I wash the cult fully out. In hindsight, I would not change a thing about the way I left and how my life has progressed except I would have found an ex-JW therapist sooner in life. May this help a future ex-JW, ex-Mormon, or other ex-cult member on the road to her or his recovery.”

Thank you, John, for sharing that story. I’m glad you got the help you needed and that you’ve finally managed to find some peace of mind, nd I think it’s awesome that you are now able to use your experience from when you were in a cult to help others in a similar position. So, well done!

Jami Reed next—commented on episode 35, Why I Swapped Christianity for Pandeism:

“Very interesting [wrote Jami]. This belief is new to me but makes sense to me. I have felt if there is a Creator he certainly does not intervene or give a rat’s ass about us humans… Being dead isn’t much different. I’m sorry others lack ability to empathise with you and felt arrogant enough to ‘correct’ your thinking. Thanks for your time and I appreciate your video content.”

You’re very welcome, Jami. Pandeism is indeed very interesting. I would encourage you to check out the 3 books by Knujon Mapson on my Recommended Reading page [at onionunlimited.com/books]. I was privileged to contribute a couple of essays to the latest book entitled Pandeism: An Anthology of Spiritual Nature.

TheLittleRadicalThinker, a regular visitor to my channel, commented on episode 60, Why I Can’t be a Jehovah’s Witness:

“If JW/Watchtower is the truth, I am willing to be destroyed by God forever than watching countless paedophiles walking forever in the paradise.”

Indeed. I can’t think of anything worse than living in a JW-only “paradise” ruled by the governing body. Not for me! I know exactly where you’re coming from.

Notnilc Popcorn Cruncher commenting on episode 87, Onions, Depression, and Do Not Calls which was co-hosted with my girlfriend, Mariella:

Popcorn Cruncher says, “I love onions and leeks and scallions.” Glad to hear it! He or she continues, “I also suffer from depression but since escaping Watchtower it has gone down drastically.  As for preaching, the Watchtower had hijacked my zeal and goodwill to push their false doctrine and I became so depressed because I was going against what I knew was right, but since calling them out on their false doctrine and telling them to piss off I’ve been much better.”

So, I’m sorry you also suffer from depression, but it’s great to hear that it’s reduced somewhat since leaving the cult. Amazing how that happens!

And finally, another comment from Jami Reed, this time on episode 79, Me and My Beard—Life as a Hairy Jehovah’s Witness. Jami says:

“My husband grew a beard on vacation and I loved it! Begged him to not shave and so he went to the hall with it reluctantly. He was treated worse than he feared, but this actually played into us awakening from the cult. I decided there must be other JWs upset about this beard nonsense and so I Googled and from there came upon issues such as the child sex abuse and the Australian Royal Commission with Geoffery Jackson. The elders never confronted my husband, but rather they enjoyed having the brothers incorporate the beard ‘issue’ in their talks in an attempt to publicly shame my husband. I’m so thankful that I did not marry a pushover! Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m shocked at all they allowed you to do.”

Yeah, I’m also surprised I got away with as much as I did actually. Although, like I say, I think a lot of folks just didn’t notice. I’ve got that kind of face—an unremarkable one.

Anyway, moving on, I want to talk a bit about the Queen’s death. My first experience with the Queen was in 1977. It was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. I was 6 years old, in my second year at school, and one particular afternoon we were all called into assembly. Sitting cross-legged on the wooden gymnasium floor, each child was given a large silver coin commemorating the Jubilee and then sent home early. I didn’t really understand why, but I cherished that coin for many years until I found I could cash it in at the bank for £2 of “real” money. In 1977, when I was 6 years old, the Queen was already 50 and she’d been on the throne since 1952. Personally, I’ve never known another monarch. 

So, the first 30 years or so of the Queen’s reign was exciting, I think, with lots of positive historical events taking place. She became Queen in 1952 at the sudden passing of her father, King George, and was officially crowned the following year in June 1953. The coronation marked the first live TV event and many people bought their first TV especially to watch it. Subsequent years saw a number of other “firsts”. The first organ transplant occurred in 1954. The first motorways were opened in 1958. The Beatles, of course, dominated the 1960s with Beatlemania. These were all things the Queen lived through. She was there to present the World Cup to the England football team in 1966, and she was still Queen when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969, the year I was born.

She was also around when JFK was assassinated in 1963, which brings me back to the Mandela Effect. If you ask people to remember the car that JFK was in when he was shot, and how many people, in particular, were in the car, many will swear blind that there were one or two people in the front—a driver and possibly a passenger—with the President and First Lady in the back seats. In fact, there were three rows of seats with six people in the car. Texas governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, were in the second row of seats and a Secret Service agent called Roy Herman Kellerman was in the front passenger seat charged with protecting the President—a fat lot of good that did!

Returning to the Queen. She was around when the first email was sent in 1971 and when the first mobile phone conversation took place in 1973. Her Silver Jubilee, as I said, took place in 1977, and two years later the first woman prime minister was voted in—Margaret Thatcher—the first PM I remember as a kid. In 1981, when I started secondary school, Prince Charles and Diana were getting married. 

The next 30 years of the Queen’s reign saw a lot of challenging events on the world scene. AIDS broke out in ’81-82. Then we had the Ethiopian famine prompting Live Aid in 1985. I got baptised, left school, and started pioneering in 1986 which also marked the Chornobyl and Challenger shuttle disasters. The Berlin wall fell in 1989, prompting massive upheavals in Eastern Europe, and who can forget the “Annus Horribilis”—1992—the year Charles and Diana separated? 1993 saw the formation of the European Union. Charles and Diana divorced in 1996, and then Diana tragically died in a car crash in 1997. I’m still not sure if that was really an accident, or whether there was some conspiracy behind her death. I guess that’s one of those things we’ll never know.

Moving into the naughties, 2001 saw the dreadful terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre with 2996 people dead. I’ve no doubt two planes did, indeed, fly into the twin towers, but I suspect there was more to the actual fall of the towers. Watching the footage, the towers seemed to fall in a manner not dissimilar to a controlled demolition—straight down! Here is another example of the Mandela Effect as well. Many people, including myself, “remember” watching news footage of the first plane hitting the north tower as it happened, followed by the second plane hitting the south tower 17 minutes later, but if you think about it, live footage of the first impact wouldn’t have been possible unless the news stations were filming the towers at the exact moment of the first impact. In fact, what we saw on the live news was just the fire caused by the first plane which had already crashed, followed by the second plane impacting the south tower. There simply was no news footage at the time of the first aircraft going in. It was only later that footage surfaced of the first plane. Apparently, some firefighters had been doing some video camera practice in Manhattan and heard the first aircraft fly low overhead. Thinking this was unusual, the cameraman swung his camera round and just caught the plane as it flew into the tower, but it wasn’t until later this footage surfaced. [It] certainly wasn’t on the first newsreel that we were watching.

Anyway, after a sad start to the 2000s things began to improve. The Queen’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 2002 with street parties across the UK. Charles married Camilla in 2005 and public opinion slowly warmed to the couple despite the earlier feelings surrounding Princess Diana. The USA got its first black president, Barack Obama, in 2009, the same year he visited the UK and stayed at Buckingham Palace. Personally, I thought Obama was one of the best world leaders ever. I thought he was solid, stable, reminiscent even of JFK. Then there was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 which saw London hosting the Olympics and the Queen parachuting into the Olympic Arena with James Bond. I can’t believe that was 10 years ago!

The last 10 years have been marked by a lot of political upheaval on the world scene as well as quite a lot of personal loss for myself. My mum died in 2015. We had the Brexit referendum in 2016. My marriage ended and I was disfellowshipped in 2019, then we entered COVID lockdown in 2020. The Queen’s husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, died in 2021 and we saw those really sad images of the Queen sitting alone at his funeral. 2022 saw the lifting of the COVID restrictions and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the appointment of a new prime minister, but this was just 2 days before the death of Her Majesty.

Which brings me onto this question: How do I feel about the Queen and the monarchy in general? Honestly, I’ve got mixed feelings. The Queen was a person who had been there all my life, but now she’s gone. Now, I don’t have a heart of stone. I’m quite empathic, so I have a degree of empathy for her family who are feeling the loss of a mother and a grandmother, and on a national level, I feel like her death marks the end of an era for the UK and the Commonwealth countries, which stretches back to the 1950s when my own parents were just married and I wasn’t even thought of. Her death is not insignificant, but I’m also not grieving.

The truth is, I feel like I didn’t know the Queen, so personal grief isn’t really something I’m feeling right now. Perhaps I should. I don’t know, but when I read about the nation “grieving” it feels odd to me—quite alien really. We are currently in a period of “national mourning”, but I find I can’t identify. The Queen was not a personal acquaintance of mine and I don’t understand how anyone outside of her circle of friends and family can truly grieve, at least not in the sense that I understand grieving. What is it that they’re grieving? Not a personal relationship, so what? The loss of a national identity perhaps? The end of an era? Or maybe it’s because people feel they did know her, even if the “relationship” was only one-sided. I guess for some, it’s like when their favourite actor or singer dies—I don’t know.

I watched a documentary the other night on the Queen’s life and it made me realise what a remarkable life she lived, but is that because of anything she actually did? Or was it just because she witnessed remarkable things during her 96 years? I mean, I’ve lived through 53 years of the same events, and my old dad has lived through 84 years of the same. Was the Queen really any more remarkable than us, or anyone else for that matter? In a way, I think probably not. She was just a human, like you or I, experiencing life and history in the making. Yet she was also so much more. She was a figurehead, the representation, I guess, of a once-global empire that acquired 25% of the world’s land surface in its peak, albeit immorally on occasion.

Like I say, I have mixed feelings about the monarchy and particularly its place in modern society. I watched the news yesterday and I saw her household following the coffin. By “household” I don’t mean just her family. I mean a huge number of people from her inner circle, all dressed officially, including guardsmen in red coats and bearskin hats. On one hand, I thought it was wholly appropriate for a monarch who reigned for 70 years to get such a big send-off, but on the other hand, I thought “Why? Why all this ceremony?” Like, this week the Queen’s coffin has been transported all over the place, from Balmoral to Edinburgh, to Buckingham Palace, and now to Westminster Hall where she lies in state, and then after the funeral next week she will be transported again to St. George’s Chapel and laid to rest with her father, King George, the Queen Mother and her late husband, Prince Philip. It all seems very over the top to me, but also strangely appropriate. I [I] honestly can’t figure out just how I feel about all this.

I can’t help thinking of when my own mum died in 2015. My mum, by the way, always reminded me of the Queen. She looked strangely familiar to her I thought. Anyway, my point is, most people just get tarted up by the undertaker, laid in a coffin, and either buried in a hole in the ground or cremated. You might have a few words said at a church or the graveside, but it’s all over and done with very quickly with very little if any real ceremony. But my mum didn’t even get that. She never had a funeral. No coffin. She was just “disposed of” by the undertaker at the request of my dad. I believe she was cremated and scattered somewhere, but I know not where. At the time it seemed a good idea to keep things simple, but on reflection, I really do wish she’d had more of a send-off, and a real resting place, one that I could visit if I wanted to, if only in my mind. But she just had a memorial service at the Kingdom Hall, based on a Watch Tower outline which was, of course, more about encouraging first-time visitors to the hall to join the cult than “eulogising the deceased”, and that was that. My mum was just gone. There was no real closure. I never really grieved, and in some ways, it feels like she hasn’t died. 

But Elizabeth was a monarch, a queen, who reigned—or served, depending on how you look at it—for 70 years. So she gets the works, and I don’t begrudge that. It seems entirely appropriate to me, but I also think she was just human, like my mum, and it feels strange that the Queen should be paraded around Britain while tens of thousands of people who never knew her personally stand in miles-long queues to catch a last glimpse of their monarch, crying and throwing flowers. Very odd! 

So what do I think about the monarchy in general? Again, I have mixed feelings. In 2021 the royal family cost UK taxpayers over £104 million, and at her death, the Queen’s personal wealth was close to £434 million. There’s a part of me that questions why she should be so privileged simply because she happened to be born into royalty. Isn’t it time we dispensed with the monarchy? But there’s another side to this.

In the 2019-2020 financial year, prior to the COVID outbreak, a record 3,285,000 people visited the official royal residences—Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and so forth. This alone generated £49,859,000 for the UK economy, but there’s more! According to Forbes Magazine, the House of Windsor generates around £1.9 billion annually to the economy, mostly through tourism. Basically, the monarchy is a tourist attraction, and one of our most valuable commodities. When my girlfriend, Mariella, visits the UK in November for example, I will show her around the sights of London, including Buckingham Palace, and I shall feel proud to do so. Weird! On one hand, I don’t really care for the monarchy, but on the other hand, I feel a strange affinity with it, as if my identity, even my historicity, is somehow wrapped up with it. Perhaps this is what people are grieving.

Despite the claims by some that the monarchy is unnecessary in this modern age and a drain on the taxpayer, it seems to me that it’s worth maintaining just for the sense of national identity it provides. Besides, since 1993 the Queen has paid tax. Technically, the monarch is not legally liable to pay income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax because the relevant enactments do not apply to the Crown, but in 1993 the Queen volunteered to pay tax. Personally, I’m not sure she should have done that, especially seeing as so much is gained back via tourism. It seems to me that a monarch who pays tax loses some of their regality, but I can also see it was a good gesture to make.

Then, of course, there’s the many state and national duties the monarch and members of the royal family perform—many hundreds of events each year. Add these, plus the aforementioned income from tourism, to the numerous charities the royals support, and it seems to me the monarchy is probably a good thing. Unlike monarchies of times past, the Queen or King these days no longer rules but reigns it’s said. It may even be said that they serve their subjects these days. Although holding many titles and positions including Head of State, Commander in Chief, and Head of the Church of England, the reigning monarch is largely subservient to the people they supposedly rule over. They have no real influence or power to speak of anymore. Real power sits with the people-elected government and parliament. The monarch is merely a figurehead, whose presence serves to strengthen national unity and stability. They are the face of the UK, literally, with their face on coins and stamps. They are our country.

Interestingly, on coins, each King or Queen faces in the opposite direction to their predecessor. The Queen’s father, George VI, faced left on his coins so Elizabeth II faced right. Which means when the new coins for Charles III are minted he’ll be facing left again.

Anyway, I digress. So is the monarchy necessary? For politics, I think not. Republics seem to function well enough. The pomp and ceremony surrounding the opening of parliament each year for example seems to me to be largely superfluous. We could do without it, but it also adds a sense of importance, of gravitas if you will, to the whole affair of government. I’m sure tourists would still visit London to see the palaces if we dumped the royal family and became a republic, but it wouldn’t feel the same. So do I think the monarchy is necessary? Yes and no. The UK could function either way, I think, but I think I like it as it is. Having a monarch makes us somewhat unique. It makes us interesting as a nation, and it gives us a sense of history and identity and that, I think, is a good thing.

So the Queen may be dead, but long live the King!