I found myself riveted by the events unfolding in London during the Diamond Jubilee weekend. I couldn’t get enough of watching the Royals, young and old. As my friend Lee said, “No one does pomp and circumstance better than the British.”
I am a long time Anglophile. I’ve always thought it dated back to being an English Lit major in college, but now I think it started with Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. As many people during the televised coverage commented, this was also when my family got a television. I remember standing right in front of the tiny set so I could see all the pageantry. I fell in love with the Queen right then and there.
Sixty years later, little had changed. Oh, the plasma screen was much larger and flatter, but there I was standing right in front of the television to not to miss a detail. I must admit that the new technology made me feel at times as if I were on the royal barge right next to the Family. I kept an eagle eye on the stiff upper lips that trembled, despite their best efforts, in the cold. I wondered if the Queen’s pashmina was at all warm enough for her? And Prince Philip, standing so erect in the pouring rain? Could this be good for a 91 year old? Was this bravery going to create a situation like President William Harrison’s? He died of pneumonia one month after his inauguration in the snow.
And sure enough, Prince Philip landed in the hospital. I just went on line to see how he’s doing and watched a video of a beaming Queen Elizabeth after a visit with her husband. A palace insider was quoted as saying, “Prince Philip is as tough as old boots and the last thing he wants is to be stuck in hospital on his birthday weekend.” So hopefully he is on the mend.
In another way, it was interesting to watch the celebration unfold. I felt as if a P.R. firm of the highest order carefully orchestrated each event. You could see that the rehabilitation of Charles and Camilla was complete. The scandalous couple of the nineties was front and just to the left of center the entire weekend. Camilla even sat next to the Queen in the open landau and they seemed quite chummy. Not a mention of a tampon anywhere.
Who the Queen is supposed to be has changed over the years. Her Royal Majesty has always had such a royal majesty about her that she has seemed set apart. Her proper demeanor and attitude of noblesse oblige solidified this persona. It seemed the concert evening was dedicated to demonstrating that the royals, just like the common folk, could get down and boogey. (Even Princess Anne who looked like she’d just stepped out of a 16th century painting, could nod her head in rhythm to the music of Paul McCartney.)
The last time we were in London, my husband and I took the tube from Heathrow into the city. It’s almost an hour trip. I think we were the only people of non-color aboard. England is an island whose residents reflect the population of the Commonwealth nations. Watching the thousands upon thousands lined up to see the Queen, I couldn’t help notice that most of the faces the cameras scanned were white. What the significance of that was, I’m not sure. Whether it bodes ill for the monarchy, I don’t know.
About thirty years ago, Queen Elizabeth visited Seattle, where we lived. I took my children out of school early so we could get downtown to see her. We were lucky and got up fairly close. I remember being struck by her daintiness and the lovely smile she bestowed on everyone. It furthered my respect and affection for her. Even these many years later, through the scandals, unrest and troubles, she has maintained an unwavering poise.
I want to add my hip, hip hooray. Long live the Queen!