The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King

The news this week has been rightly dominated by the death of Queen Elizabeth. She, as you all know, had reigned for an astounding 70+ years as the Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. In that time she was a symbol of selfless governance to some, something less so to others who questioned why there need be a monarchy at all.

America has always had a love/hate/indifference relationship with the British Monarchy. We tell ourselves that we, after all, fought a war to get out from under the thumb of a monarch and set up a system of government that (so far at least) has kept us a democracy. After the death in harness of FDR it was made law that no matter how popular a president is, two terms and you’re out. Yet we are endlessly fascinated and invested in the Monarchy: the nation was just as enthralled as anyone in the Empire when the King said “No Thanks” to the crown to wed his American divorcee Wallis Simpson, paving the way for Elizabeth’s long reign. We stayed up until all hours of the morning to watch Charles wed Diana, and mourned her death with if not equal fervor to her countrymen, close. Even today, President Biden could hold a press conference letting us finally know that yes, aliens were discovered in Area 51, have been living on Earth for the past years and are here now in the forms of Chris Carter and Ryan Murphy producing some of our favorite TV shows, but Oprah interviewing Megan and Harry is the show that will get the prime-time slot. Not to mention the ratings.

What we forget is how modern and even “feminist” the Queen was. She grew up in London during the war and when Buckingham Palace was bombed she was quoted as being “glad” because “Now we can look the East End in the eye.” (EDIT- thank you ScentSpirit for pointing out that it was actually the first Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth II’s mother) who said that. My bad.) She became a mechanic in the Army, and was known to drive her own vehicles and diagnose, if not fix, breakdowns, if “The Queen” is to be believed. She made the choice to live her life in a way that put duty and country first, ahead of family and their (and her) needs and wants. Whether it was right for her, her family, or her country is, I suppose, open to debate. But it was her decision to make and made it she did. In this day of thirst-trap celebs, “real” housewives, and Tik-Tok tacky “influencers” I think that legacy should be noted.

I’m wearing Penhaligon Castille, just because.

God Save the King.

Image: Pexels.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’ve been an Anglophile since age 11 when I started reading Agatha Christie mysteries and other British authors. Love Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the history, and the great performing arts/culture. The Queen was part and parcel of that love, so I really mourn the loss of her. To me, she stood for duty, integrity, self sacrifice, and service. Plus she was good humored and fun. RIP your Majesty. You will be missed.

    • Tom says:

      I agree. During a few presidencies I sort of wish we had her ourselves, but that’s a different kettle of fish, isn’t it.

  • Tara C says:

    Hear hear. I will miss the Queen, she was so steadfast and dignified.

  • March says:

    I devoured “The Crown” even though I’m not a huge Royal Family buff and came away with a lot of historical context I didn’t know as well as admiration for Queen Elizabeth II (I do grasp that it’s not a documentary.) It made her more human, and it seemed like she was always trying to figure out the right thing to do for the country, even when it wouldn’t have been her first choice as a mother or an individual. She wasn’t perfect (who is?) but she tried to do her best. At least that’s what I saw.

    • Tom says:

      I didn’t watch all of that (I need to) but that’s always the impression I got. She was the direct opposite of the “let it all out” “examine your feelings” “let’s communicate” era that was coming up during her reign. At this time when that “everyone’s opinion matter” trope has turned around and fanged us in the Raspberry Ketones we could use a little bit of that reticence..

  • ScentSpirit says:

    “Now we can look the East End in the eye” is a quote from her mother, Queen Elizabeth. Then Princess Elizabeth was a child at the time, sent to live at Windsor.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    I really hoped QEII would live long enough that the jump was to Wills.
    While no staunch Monarchist there’s no republic on earth I’m jealous of and no president I wish was ours. Most of the political curs of Australia don’t deserve the title President either.
    I’ll miss QEII as our figurehead.
    Portia x

    • Tom says:

      I honestly thought it was the plan to skip to him, Guess not. We will see how Charles does.

      As for presidents, Amurrica has run the gamut in my lifetime, hasn’t it?

    • Alityke says:

      Love the “political curs” description. Think our current Tory government would fit that description!
      KCIII knows he has to rein in his political leanings now he’s reigning. The Prince of Wales will be tasked with the keeping the environment in the headlines. A shame that Harry can’t take on the humanitarian aspect.

  • Alityke says:

    Having lived only during QEII’s reign hearing the King being referred to is still strange to my ears. In the last 200 years, 133 of them had a Queen! Yet in the remaining 67 years there have been 6 kings not counting KCIII.
    New Royal Warrants are being issued so it’ll be interesting to see which perfume houses get them

    • Tom says:

      It is bizarre. Elizabeth was Queen for my entire life and I’m no spring chicken. I keep looking at him and thinking “wait, why are you here? Oh, that..”

  • Maya says:

    Wonderful post. Elizabeth was extraordinary and to me, our world is a bit of a lesser place without her.

    • Tom says:

      Yes, but King Charles seems to be stepping up. Perhaps he had to get to 70 for that to happen

      • Maya says:

        I do agree with you about him stepping up. He is her son after all.
        Oh no, I hope you don’t mean we all have to hit our 70’s before we smarten up, step up, or grow up. That would be so unfair.