This was, of course, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II (or “Cousin Lilibet,” as I like to call her) celebrated her 60th anniversary on the throne of the United Kingdom last weekend. It rained like hell. She was a trouper, however, and a good Englishwoman, and stood (with someone holding an umbrella over her head) and waved and smiled and had a good word for everyone.
She is an amazing figure, in her way. There was a fascinating article in the Financial Times last weekend, theorizing that her insistence on saying only the obvious, and her minimalist facial expressions, and her “anodyne conversation,” and her general passivity, are the secrets of her success. A more assertive / active monarch wouldn’t be anywhere near as sympathetic as she is. We can all imagine ourselves chatting with her, or socializing with her: she’s a blank slate. (I remember having a dream years ago in which she came over for dinner. I made spaghetti in the washing machine, but it didn’t turn out very well; she was very good about it, however, and didn’t complain.) Her mother was the soul of good cheer also (although behind the scenes she was said to be catty, and a drinker, and a gambler).
Elizabeth’s uncle, the Duke of Windsor, had some personality. Sadly, it was the wrong kind of personality. Prince Charles has some personality too, but it’s a constipated angry prissy personality, and I wonder – if he actually does succeed to the throne – how popular he’ll be. (Smarter of him, probably, to let one of his sons succeed when Elizabeth passes away. But, like his great-great-grandfather Edward VII, he’s been waiting for his mummy to die for a very long time. I don’t think he’ll take himself out of the succession.)
When I was young, I used to read English history all the time; it was far more interesting and dramatic than American history. I longed for kings and queens. Now, at my advanced age, having lived in the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia as well as the United States of America, I absolutely prefer living in a republic.
If I need a queen, I’ll send for RuPaul or one of the Drag Race contestants.
(One last story, unsubstantiated but funny: The Queen Mum preferred, for whatever reason, to hire gay servants and footmen. One evening, late, she phoned down to the kitchen from her bedroom: “I don’t know what you young queens are doing down there,” she said, “but this old queen up here wants a gin and tonic.”)
So, anyway: God save the Queen.