ON the windowsill in my office I have a photograph of the Queen. A few years ago, I was involved in writing a book for a military charity, for which the Queen was Patron. When the book was published, she was presented with a copy. I wasn’t the only writer involved in the project, but when the official photographer took a picture of her reading and enjoying the book, I like to think it was my chapters that she was looking at: as close to By Royal Approval as I am ever likely to get.

I’m far from the most ardent of royalists, but it would be a hard-hearted individual indeed not to be moved by the news of the Queen’s death last week. Whatever your views on the monarchy, it is clear that she devoted her life to the job and carried out her role with diligence and dignity – far more so than some of our recent prime ministers. Back in the summer, I wrote about her Jubilee appearance with Paddington Bear, and her knack for comic timing. Watching it back again now, it’s difficult not to watch Paddington’s final line – ‘Thank you, for everything’ – without a lump in the throat.

We’re not great at talking about death in this country, but we’re pretty good at talking about the weather. Which is why, perhaps, we instinctively reach for the symbolism in such circumstances. That started on the Tuesday, when Liz Truss succeeded Boris Johnson as Prime Minister – Johnson moved his farewell speech an hour earlier to make sure that he was bathed in sunshine rather than rain. Truss, meanwhile, waited for a pause between heavy showers to deliver her opening ‘riding out the storm’ speech.

Writers use weather to laden their stories with meaning at their peril. Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s infamous ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ spawned an annual competition to come up with the worst start to a novel. Equally, there can’t be many worse closing lines to a film than Andie MacDowall’s ‘Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed’. The Victorian author and critic John Ruskin talked dismissively of ‘pathetic fallacy’, where the writer adds meaning and emotion to things such as the weather, to heighten how people are feeling.

Any author writing of storm clouds hanging over Downing Street as a new Prime Minister took office would have their manuscript returned full of red lines. But what of the rainbows over Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle on Thursday? Here I was reminded instead of how John Constable added one to his Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows, following the death of his friend, Archdeacon John Fisher. Perhaps Mother Nature is an artist, rather than a writer.