On Britannia, For All of Us

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I don’t know about you, but this picture makes me feel so happy. I unabashedly love the royal family. I watched the Diamond Jubilee river cruise three times. I didn’t intend to, but it kept running while I was doing work around the house. Even on the third time, I found myself standing in front of the flat screen, watching with increasing unease as the Queen and Prince Philip stood in the chilly downpour on the royal barge ‘Spirit of Chartwell’. It didn’t seem a wise thing for senior citizens, be they royal or not, to be doing. But they carried on!

Being an English Major, I’ve always been somewhat of an Anglophile. I love all things English—well, most things. Of course, I want to picture England as it was, not as it is today. When I visit London, I go to see the old landmarks. The Eye is fine and some of the new architecture is quite lovely (I’m getting more Anglophiled as I write), but give me the Parliament Buildings and Buckingham Palace any day.

I think the adherence to tradition, even in clothing, is some of what I especially like about the photo. The Queen’s outfit—matching coat and hat, gloves and the proper purse by her side—is so outmoded, but it’s what we expect from her. And she delivers. Prince Charles and Prince William wear conservative suits, and the baby? He was dressed in an elaborate christening gown, which is a replica of the gown designed in 1841 that was now deemed too fragile to wear. No Burberry there. Tradition trumped everything else. It gives one a sense of stability, doesn’t it?

A few years ago, my husband and I had an overnight transfer in London. We stayed at Heathrow, but took the Tube into London for dinner and a walk. That was an education. It’s about an hour trip and we were above ground for quite a lot of it. We got to see the different ethnic neighborhoods as we went. As people got on and off, we saw a parade of the different cultures that make up England today. We were about the only people of no colour in our car. As I covertly watched an Islamic looking father with his two children, I caught someone else staring at us. Truthfully, we were the real oddity in the passengers.

When we got off the Tube, we weren’t sure which way to head.

“Let’s go to Fortnum and Mason to have tea,” my husband suggested.

“Brilliant,” I said and followed him to Piccadilly.

 

 

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