This is how I think the collapse of Regency England would go. Despite the fact that there was a mad king and a to-excess Prince Regent, the government itself was fairly stable. Relating it to some of today’s governments, what Regency England didn’t have were the failsafes many of today’s government’s possess. Therefore, if a plague had come to the shores and began to decimate the population, how would the government react?
At first, I thought it would be a slow disintegration; those who weren’t sick, and still retained some power, would hold onto their famous (and stiff) upper lip and go on with the business of governing. I even found a reference to that—during the Black Death, there was an administrator (whose name escapes me) responsible for managing the country during this crisis. He managed to hold everything together.
I suppose such a man could have existed in my Regency dystopia…but alas, he died from the plague. It’s great to be able to do that. As the write and creator of this world, I can make anyone do anything I want them to do. I can have them save this world—or wipe them completely out.
In my mind, the government did hold on and those last heroic administrators stayed on until one by one their family, and they, were hit by the disease. While it moved slowly at first, there came a time when the collapse of the government became inevitable and was as swift and shocking as the plague first coming to shore.
Likely the remaining royals were sequestered someplace, which brings to mind the Masque of the Red Death. The Members of Parliament, using what resources and power were left to them, probably all left for their country estates, thinking (and hoping) there was some protection from the dreaded plague there. London, and its surrounding environs, were left on its own.
The people of London and the rest of England, for that matter, would have been utterly stunned, walking in a stupor as they dealt with the disease and the immediate matter of surviving. Yet on some level they would have had to know the institutions they relied on, from the Members of Parliament to the governors, mayors, and council leaders had all vanished. Everyone was now left on their own to bury or burn their dead, to die—or to survive.