Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Queen -- And Why This American Cares

Like many around the world, I am mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II -- expected, but never expected at that moment and time. And during these days leading up to her funeral and final rest, it has caused me to think about my own relationship with the Queen and the British monarchy -- how it evolved and why, in these days and times, it remains so strong.


I am neither British (save for some great grandparents and beyond) nor have I ever encountered the Queen or any of her family "in person," even from afar. Why does that relationship remain strong for me and so many, while others might like nothing better than to see the backs of the royal family and their palaces and press?


As I've muddled it through, I think it comes down to one word or idea. Constancy. 


We live in a fast world. If you don't like the television show, you change the channel -- or better yet, stream and go straight to what you do like. Race through Facebook or Instagram and just stop at the photo that snatches your attention. We drive too fast in a race to get someplace inconsequential -- sometimes even to the red light. (I always love it when someone has blown by me and yet we are sitting, side by side, at the stop light.) 

We change our styles. Mini-skirts, midi-skirts. Capri pants or long? Polyester (remember that?) to natural fabrics. Wash and wear, permanent press. How often do we just sit and listen to the sounds around us -- or really listen to the person next to us, not thinking about what we'll do next, where we'll go.

We change our political representatives every two, four or six years. And party platforms change too. We are a young country and sometimes I think the U.S. acts as a toddler or perhaps a recalcitrant teenager in how we approach our world, our lives. Me, me, me. 

I'm not saying I'm against all change. We coped without microwaves, cell phones and computers -- but it is a lot easier with them! Life without change would be pretty boring and downright impossible. And a lot of those changes are indeed for the better. We cope with it, loving some, other things? Not so much. The Queen coped as well, modernizing the monarchy, while maintaining its longstanding traditions.

As probably all of us know by now, the Queen wasn't born to the role she carried through life. As the daughter of a "second son," she was more likely born to marry someone of aristocratic background and live comfortably on a country estate. (Think Highclere Castle, the site of "Downton Abbey" and ancestral home of the Queen's dear friend, Lord Porchester.) As a child she said that she wanted to be a farmer's wife.


But of course, time -- and the abdication of her Uncle David (King Edward VIII) -- changed all that. She moved into a very public role at a young age, stepping up to the plate with a grand sense of duty and obligation, serving in World War II as a teen and then taking on the throne at the age of 26 upon the early death of her father.


Her constancy extended to the love of her life, Prince Philip, with whom she fell in love as a teenager, much against the will of her parents. Despite Philip's rumored (and documented) dalliances, the Queen remained constant and their marriage endured, emerging in time stronger, perhaps than before. 


It endured until last year.

During her reign, the Queen has had no power from any sort of legislative perspective. She cannot make law. Indeed, she is not even to express opinion on law or issues. Despite her familiarity with the contents of her official "red boxes," she was largely a figurehead, more associated with cutting ribbons and meeting dignitaries. In many ways she was a highly paid, overworked goodwill ambassador for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations. 

The life sounds glamorous but it couldn't be easy. She couldn't pick up and meet a friend for lunch without it being extremely complicated. It's likely that her longest conversations with most of the people she ever met, whether in a rope line or a garden party, probably didn't extend past two minutes. If that.


Think about it -- how many hours one must spend over a lifetime, shaking hands, offering small talk till urged on by her "handler" to the next person. Pulling cords to reveal plaques or cutting ribbons. Over and over and over and over. Could you do it for 70 years? I couldn't.  

Or how would you like to meet regularly with your Prime Minister when you have no real power? And when you really don't like some of them? While she is credited with being an astute student of political issues, something she put into practice daily by reading the materials in her "red boxes" and her weekly PM meetings, she couldn't change things, whether she liked them or not. Two days before her death (below) she said farewell to PM Boris Johnson and "invited" new PM Liz Truss to form a government. Bent, stooped over her walking stick, ubiquitous purse in hand, she did her duty. And she was smiling.

Tradition. Constance. It's what you do. 

And she did this for her entire life.

Even her wardrobe was consistent. A popular meme showing up this week shows the Queen in a rainbow of colorful outfits. All conservative but fashionable, all bright, all topped off with a colorful hat. "I have to be seen to be believed," she is credited with having said, explaining her wardrobe. 

 

Constant. How very much I value that constant, consistent dedication to duty, to her role. Never complain. Never explain. Laugh. Do your job with with quiet dignity and grace, even when the world around you is anything but. Values I admire. Values I'm quite sure I could never life up to.

I feel in love with England as a child, as my mother (who also loved it but never been there) "introduced" me to the Queen and Princess Margaret. 


Years later, on her last trip before cancer set in, my mother and I went to London. It was several years after Miss Ludwig's English Lit class, where I had read biographies as my extra credit of the Queen, Princess Anne and Prince Charles. I was hooked.


After that I began collecting commemoration/event memorabilia and built (and continue to build) a fairly large library of not only British history books but also royal biographies. 

I suppose I have been constant and consistent, too.


I don't believe the Queen was perfect. I think she may have fallen down a bit as a mother -- due in part to the nature of her job and perhaps a victim of her upbringing. "The Crown" (which I consider historical fiction, as is emphasized by its creator, Peter Morgan) has a good deal right but it may well overplay for effect. Still, at best, not perfect. I question some of her decisions, perhaps badly advised by an overbearing mother and a slew of advisors. 


But then, who of us is perfect. Who hasn't made mistakes in relationships or bad choices about things we might do or say. Get in line. I'll be with you.

I have read that she was a funny woman with a grand sense of humor, astute, smart, able to put people at their ease. A woman who loved her horses and her dogs, found peace and pleasure at Balmoral and Windsor, who could hold her own with leaders of all kinds from around the world. She was a bearer of tradition -- a royal tradition that covered countless monarchs before her and will continue. She modernized it some, perhaps not enough. But she was able to maintain the expectations and traditions of those before her. Sometimes I think it's difficult to even come up with a tradition that will last more than a generation. We move too fast.


I will miss her. There may well be changes in the monarchy in the coming years. And to be honest, I would support them, though not its dissolution. I trust that some things will indeed remain constant. That continuity is part of history. Part of tradition, as antiquated as some of the rituals may seem, they are beautiful. They have been done for far longer than most of us can chase back our family trees. 

But during a challenging time for Britain -- recession, concerns about a brutal winter, rising fuel and food costs, Brexit aftermath -- it is good to know that there is some thread of consistency, one that dates back hundreds of years. 


Yes, I feel grief in a way both detached and oddly personal. But I am also grateful that this remarkable woman lived during my lifetime -- all my lifetime -- and I was able to count her as one of the "Icons of my life that I will never meet." 


She was one of a kind.

59 comments:

RuthW in MD said...

I really enjoyed reading this post!! Very well written, very kind and considerate too. Thank you!

Prims By The Water said...

I have been watching the live news feed from the BBC News early every morning and afternoon for all of the queens funeral events. She was my queen too I feel. I heard once she started wearing brightly colored dresses and hats so that folks in the crowd could easily make her out. A great tribute you wrote for her. Janice

Debra@CommonGround said...

Beautifully said, Jeanie. I think so many of us feel the same. I also watched the Crown and felt like it is relatively accurate. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, she will be missed.

Mae Travels said...

Great thoughts about what’s going on in so many heads now! Your collection of photos is spectacular. I’m not a passionate fan of royalty, but I share a lot of what you expressed. Did you ever meet Lila Green, an Ann Arbor woman with a giant collection of Queen Elizabeth memorabilia? She managed to arrange an invitation to one of the Queen’s garden parties once! And she often dressed as the queen for appropriate events. Her husband would agree to walk a few steps behind her etc.

best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Iris Flavia said...

I agree... she was always there and mostly smiling, too.
And yes to the red lights, LOL.

Yes, and the love between her and her husband was always wonderful to see - the jokes, the laughter, the smiles and all - as Queen!

And yes, to having fun with others being quite complicated. Sad. No "real" power, yet working till (nearly) the end.
She sure has the respect and love from many people.

Great fashion, too!

Wonderful you had that visit with your Mother!

Perfect last words.
Her son has to fill huge shoes...

Valerie-Jael said...

Nice tribute. She was always a part of my life, and I have great memories of the street parties everywhere for the coronation, and the lovely books we got as gifts - I still have mine, 70 years later! Hugs, Valerie

Anvilcloud said...

That is s fine a piece as any. Well done. Someone mentioned on a post that she thought that a constitutional monarchy to be the best form of government. Perhaps she is right for the constancy, dignity and calm neutrality.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,
What a great tribute post on Queen Elizabeth. The photos are wonderful, I love the colorful photo of her wearing all the dresses and hats. Take care, enjoy your day!

Lisbeth said...

Lovely post and you summoned it up so nicely. I agree with you that the royals, especially today when they have no political power, are a traditional, stabilising factor. They are the continuation of our history, culture and traditions. The policies and politicians are changing with a changing society. The British royal family is still a little bit different from the other European royal families, in the way they integrate into society.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

While I am in the camp that would get rid of the monarchy in an instant, I am curious at your statement, "There may be changes in the monarchy in the coming years. And to be honest I would support them, though not its dissolution." You don't give us any clue what these changes you would support might be, and it seems incongruous in the extreme to me that an American whose very country was founded on the act of detaching from the shackles of monarchy, would resist its dissolution. I suspect that people will soon tire of King Charles who insists on having his pajamas pressed every morning, having a servant load his toothbrush for him, and calls his valet to pick up a piece of paper he has dropped onto the floor. Now that certainly smacks of someone we could all admire!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Jeanie, I have read several other blog posts this past week on this topic and yours was the best of the group. The way you interspersed your personal feelings with historical images made for a wonderful tribute. Like yourself, I have never seen or met royalty, but greatly admired and respected the late Queen Elizabeth II. And, indeed, we have all lost a constant in the world.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Queen had immense power recognition through her many charity works. I think of her as a one of a kind in history, a classy business woman extraordinaire with an extrodinary wardrobe.

shoreacres said...

I knew this post would come along eventually. As you know, I'm not one to watch The Crown and etc, and Anglophilia isn't part of my makeup, but I watched the Queen's coronation on tv as a child, and followed her casually through the years. I admire her rarely-commented on role in WWII, and those outfits! The hats and purses are a marvel. So: yes, time and circumstance have brought an end to her reign, but I suspect that appreciation for her will grow as the years go by.

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Such a lovely tribute to The Queen. She was indeed someone to admire, who had no life of her own, yet bore her responsibilities for seven decades with grace and dignity. Not that she never made mistakes, she certainly did. But I love the traditions, and rituals of British ceremonies, the pomp and circumstance held unchanged through hundreds of years. America doesn't have that sense of history or decorum. We could certainly take a lesson in civility and dignity from her.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I applaud your honest sharing of your feelings and thoughts. That's a hard thing to do in a public forum. I understand and know you now on a deeper level. I respected the Queen but not quite on your level. I've never been to the United Kingdom. Most of what I know of the land is from books and movies. It will be interesting to see the changes King Charles III makes. Funny he has always been around my whole life too. He finally got the job he has waited for all his life. I personally would not want a royal role although most of my life I've done public services jobs. There are too many people telling you what you can and can't do as a royal. You give up your passport, driver's license, and a squadron of people then plan your life. Nope wouldn't like that at all.

Marilyn Miller said...

What a lovely tribute to the Queen. Well written and just the right pictures. I totally agree with you, the right word is consistency/constant. She was one of a kind we will never see again. She was there for so long I barely remember her becoming Queen, but then as a little girl I didn't much pay attention to the news. Some people judge her, but I think also that she did the best with what she was handed. More and more I have loved hearing of her humor, including that video with Paddington. She was one of a kind and we will miss her.

DUTA said...

What made her great was the fact that there was nothing special about her. She had plain looks, poor fashion taste (too bright outfit colors), no charisma.
I agree with you that she was a constant, stabilizing factor in her people's life - and that's a lot.

Rita said...

Well put! She had class and dignity...and you could tell she genuinely cared about others and her country. She will be missed.

DVArtist said...

A very nice post and tribute to the Queen.

Joanne Huffman said...


Well said.

Rustic Pumpkin said...

A beautifully written piece, thoughtful and considerate on Her Majesty the Queen. I have to say I have spent the best part of this past week sitting by the television watching the events unfold. I can't get there in person to any of them. It's the next best thing for me. I have shed many tears. More will follow, I'm sure, especially on Monday.

I have the utmost respect, especially for Anne and Charles. Both in their 70s, where have they found the stamina to carry on their duties. Anne the devoted daughter staying by her mother's side bringing her safely home from Scotland. Charles carrying on with his new duties as king. Both, along with the other Royals in need of privacy for their grieving, yet under the auspices of protocol, they cannot. It's business as usual, except there's nothing usual about the business right now.


As one reporter said Her Majesty wasn't just Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. She was queen of the whole world. If anyone mentioned the queen, you knew exactly who was meant.

While I respect the opinions of those who don't feel the same way, as obviously, you and I do I wish that at this time sorrow if they can't say something kind or good, then don't say it at all. She was a remarkable woman, however you look at it. She was someone's mother, grandmother, great grandmother. She devoted her life to the service of the people of the United Kingdom. And that she did, with great dignity, humility and grace.

The French Hutch said...

Thank you Jeanie for this post. I have been expecting (hoping) you might do a beautiful tribute to HM. I couldn't agree more and I would have liked to do this but time has not been on my side lately. I enjoyed reading this post so much, I am very much a fan as well. I loved what she stood for, quiet, manners etc. I will miss her and I know her family will. All you have to do is see how well loved she was by the British people. She was true to her word, duty first! May she rest in peace.

Vicki @ lifeinmyemptynest said...

I love that last photo of her in her country attire at her favorite place. How poignant when you said she wasn’t born to her role, but showed us all what duty to family looks like. And I do believe she was happiest in the country with her dogs and horses, so how fitting she spent her last days there.

Rita C at Panoply said...

Excellent tribute to the Queen, and the virtues which she embodied.

Steve Reed said...

A beautiful tribute and a thoughtful reflection about the Queen's place in your life and, by extension, the lives of many all over the world. She led a remarkable life and as you said, took her duty seriously, even though it must have been tremendously difficult at times. I have no reason to think Charles will be any less capable, and I look forward to hearing about the ways he intends to "modernize" the royal family.

bobbie said...

An absolutely beautiful post, Jeanie! I feel exactly the same ~
Hugs ~~

This N That said...

What a great tribute and post..Yes, her life had to have been a somewhat lonely one..

anno said...

Jeanie, you have such a gift for finding the story in a person's life, and in this case, you've perfectly illuminated her constancy and service to the British people. Lovely post. It truly is the end of an era.

Mary Rose's said...

I just KNEW a royal post was brewing. Thank you for this - very well said, dear friend. As so many other Commenters have said, I feel exactly the same. How lucky we were, to live in her time and to have the technology to see and hear her.

I'm flying the royal standard with black satin mourning ribbons until Monday.

XOXOXO.dear friend.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful tribute to the Queen and well written. She not only loved her country... but she was well loved back by her country and the world.
Thank you for this lovely post!

William Kendall said...

A wonderful tribute.

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you for this beautifully written post.
A wonderful tribute to a very special lady who will be missed.

All the best Jan

Sherry's Pickings said...

she was an amazing woman and did such a good job for so many years. Yes i think people are missing that sense of continuity as she has been around for most people's lives. But life goes on and Charles will be a super King i think.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Jeanie, what a beautifully written piece about Her Majesty. I share many of your same feelings. I have been more affected by her death than I would have ever expected. Her grace and dignity will forever be remembered. Charles has big shoes to fill!

Little Wandering Wren said...

What a wonderful post Jeanie. I really enjoyed reading this. I was in New York when my Mother told me that Charles and Anne had joined the Queen at Balmoral, so we knew she was not well. Less than 30 mins later a Taxi driver hearing my accent broke the news to me. It has been interesting (and uplifting and adds to my sense of British pride) seeing the American news, interest, and perspective. Your post adds to this feeling. (big hugs!)
Now I am back in the UK I am fully caught up. I feel very fortunate to be back in the UK at this time.
Have a lovely day
Wren x

Linda Stoll said...

Jeanie ... this is a most wonderful tribute to the Queen. My Dad was from Scotland and it was like the Royal Family were extended family. We grew up immersed in the culture. It is an end of an era, for sure.

Thanks for this truly thoughtful piece ... the pictures you chose were lovely and meaningful. And I loved that montage of her outfits!

Enjoy the weekend. I'm guessing you'll 'be at' the funeral on Monday. Me, too, friend.

I'll bring a pot of tea and a plate of scones.

R's Rue said...

Love it.

Pat said...

A beautiful post ❤️ Wonderful memories of a great beautiful lady!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

When I heard of the Queen's passing, you were one of the people I thought of first as I know you love England! I have really enjoyed watching "The Crown." I don't take it as fact but it has given me a sense of what the Queen sacrificed by taking on this role, and at such a young age. I can't fathom stepping into that role in my 20s! I was still figuring out who I was at that time! She has been a beautiful, graceful constant for the British people. I don't have a strong opinion about the monarchy because I don't think I fully understand the pros and cons of it. But I am glad that the Queen lived a long, full life and it seems she died in her happy place. And she had what I would call "a good death" - she lived a long, full life and she passed fairly quickly and didn't have to linger for long in a hospital bed. If I had the choice, that is how I would want to go!

But her passing has reminded me how quickly things can change. My granda turned 98 in May. She is in excellent health and has aged so well. But you never know what is around the corner. I'm glad I'm able to see her again. I went about 1.5 year without seeing her during the pandemic and that was hard/scary for me.

gigi-hawaii said...

A wonderful tribute to such a great lady. Good job on this post. I liked Queen Elizabeth because of her personality and tact. She just knew how to make people like and admire her. Quite an accomplishment! How many of us can say the same about ourselves?

My name is Erika. said...

I’m not British either, but it is still sad. I will miss the Queen. Or since I did t know her personally, I will miss her presence I. The world. Consistency is a good word. And she was a woman you could look up to and admire. I know the monarchy will change, and has changed over time. It just feels strange to have a new monarch. First time in all our lives I would image. Hope you have a great weekend Jeanie. Hugs Erika

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Jeanie, this was beautifully written. A lovely tribute to a most gracious woman. Actually, it brought me to tears. The Queen will certainly be missed.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Well, Jeanie. Was that the article you said you would post? It is beautiful. Sensitive, observant - and (though I can't speak for all of my fellow-Brits) very much appreciated. I was almost as enthralled by the comments from your readers - so many intriguing and insightful views. It would be wonderful to sit in a room with you and them all!! I feel the tea would turn into beer.
Interesting times ahead for us. One thing that many people miss is the knowledge the monarch has. "Are you SURE you want to do that, Prime Minister? Last time someone suggested that, this happened..." It's an interesting, though I accept fallible, system! I wouldn't change it for an elected head of state, though.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

I hope my comment got through.

Veronica Lee said...

A beautiful tribute, Jeanie.

I enjoyed the series of photos of The Queen.

The world grieves for such an amazing woman.

Hugs and blessings 🌹

It's me said...

Yes !…a beautiful colorful mam grandma and queen ….I really like love her always my life long….and what a beautiful post you make of her thanks!….love happy weekend from me and Leaf πŸ€πŸΎπŸ™❤️πŸ€

thepaintedapron.com said...

Beautiful and important words from you today Jeanie, I love how you captured the importance of constancy. She was such an amazing woman of greatness~
Jenna

Pamela said...

Wonderful post! Well done!

Bonnie said...

Beautifully written tribute to Queen Elizabeth. I will miss her and shed tears watching television clips and remembering her many appearances.
I was surprised and happy that all her dresses were displayed at Buckingham Palace in 2006 when we were there. It was a delightful surprise and very enjoyable.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Jeanie,
My mother was infatuated by Queen Elizabeth and she passed it on to me...I
admired her greatly and I too feel a loss that I can not even explain because of her passing...She was always there as long as I can remember and I think that is why people are so upset by her passing and feel this sense of loss...No other figure in history has been as prevalent as she and now she is gone....I can only imagine how those that live in Britain feel...
Thanks so much for stopping by!!!
Hugs,
Deb

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I am late to read and comment. This is a beautiful tribute, so well written. I agree the Queen’s consistency is something to celebrate, we don’t see it very often. I loved her colorful attire, always graceful and poised! I enjoyed all the photos you shared. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…excellent!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I am very late to the party, but you may have read that my grandmother insisted I be named for the Queen, especially since my birthday is the day after hers (obviously NOT the same year).

Today I heard she was raised primarily by nannies and she never had a formal education, like we do in the states. However, once she became queen, she read everything she could and Churchill taught her a LOT because he believed in her. She apparently took so many trips because she wanted to learn about the countries over which she reigned. Like you, she will be missed. Unlike you, I have never been across the pond, so have no first hand knowledge of some of the places she called home. I am sure you and I will be watching the funeral early tomorrow morning.

ashok said...

End of an era!

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

Beautiful post, Jeanie. May she rest in peace.

Sami said...

A beautifully written post Jeanie. I was a great admirer of the Queen too, she was such a constant in our lives as you say. Always graceful, kind, tactful, she worked hard until the end and always with a smile on her lips.

Carola Bartz said...

Queen Elizabeth was a hard working woman and your tribute to her is very well voiced. She had been there my entire life. I also remember how mad people were at her about her (non)reaction when Princess Diana died. I was in England at that time and there wasn't much love lost for the Queen during those days. Sure, this was only an episode, but an important one. But as you so rightly said, we all make mistakes and she certainly wasn't above that. It will be interesting to see how the monarchy will continue. Charles has big shoes to fill and I don't think he will be able to. As you can tell, I am not a big fan of the British monarchy and I find it ridiculous that the queen/king is the head of states on the other side of the earth. These are remains of colonization we should get rid off. But that's the system and wasn't the Queen's fault. She did what was expected of her and she did it with a smile. For that she deserves respect and admiration.

Arti said...

What a beautiful tribute to a monumental historic figure! As a former 'British subject' being born and raised in the then British colony of Hong Kong, I still feel a special 'affiliation' with the Queen. I was in Toronto when this news broke and wished to be glued to the screen to watch the news albeit not possible as I'd to dive into some major child caring and domestic help. :)

Fundy Blue said...

Jeanie, this is a wonderful tribute to Queen Elizabeth. You wrote so eloquently about her and her life. I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. I feel grief because I respected and admired her for her sense of duty and her dedication. She was a constant in my life.

I grew up in Canada, and photographs of the Royal family graced the walls of my mother's and father's relatives' homes and my childhood homes. I remember my paternal Grandmother MacBeath and her sister, my Great Aunt Maude practicing their curtsies for a garden party with Queen Elizabeth during her 1959 visit to Canada. On a later visit of the Queen I remember my maternal Great Aunt Nan on my mother's side of the family practicing her curtsey for another garden party with the Queen. I saw Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip drive pass me in a car in 1959. They were close enough that I could have touched the car. What a thrill!

I love the photos that you chose. They capture many sides of this amazing woman! Thank you, thank you for this wonderful post!

Priscilla King said...

I liked the rainbow of her coats and dresses.

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