The end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth marks the end of a rule that may never see its equal. Seventy years! The whole world has responded with tributes. My tribute is feeble in comparison, but it is one I take very seriously.
I fell in love with the lovely, smiling Queen at first sight when she celebrated her coronation. We both looked much younger then. I felt so captivated by the Queen that my mother let me wear one of her long nighties with a blue scarf tied around it and she made me a paper crown. I marched all over the house trying to act very royal which made my brother roll his eyes, but I ignored him. I was a Queen.
My love for Queen Elizabeth eventually turned into a passion for anything British. It was a natural progression to go from studying current royalty to past royalty to the country’s history, and famous persons and customs. I love English movies, actors, writers, furniture, you name it. In my living room I have a cabinet filled with memorabilia from England that includes coronation souvenirs. My office has shelf after shelf of books on the Queen, royalty, and English history.
My big dream was to one day go to England and Scotland, a dream that was made a reality a few years ago with a gift from my daughters. While I was in London, sadly the Queen was not, so when I saw Buckingham Palace, the flag was lowered to state she was not currently in residence. She was visiting her favorite palace, in Scotland. It seemed right to me that she passed on while visiting her home there, a place where she found peace enjoying her dogs, riding and hunting.
There are so many things I found fascinating about the Queen. Not brought up expecting to ever rule, she enjoyed the quiet unity of her family. They dubbed themselves the We Four. Her younger sister, Margaret, though behind her in lineage, was an extrovert in comparison to Elizabeth’s introvert, and would have been more suitable in such a publicly demanding role. But then, history repeated itself as her father, the younger brother, and son of King George, was the introvert in that family. He suffered from a debilitating stutter, highlighted in the award winning movie The King’s Speech.
However, his very social brother had different ideas when the woman He loved, Wallis Simpson, was not allowed to be Queen to his King. Wallis was divorced twice and was American. Times have obviously changed. But as the handsome, charming, very popular Prince for brief time, King Edward gave the world the romance story of his decade when his love was so great, he abdicated the throne to have his wife by his side. Many people over the decades have wondered how it may have been different were it not for this `love story’.
For Elizabeth, away on her honeymoon with her beloved Philip, it was her father’s death that made her rush back to England and in her mid-twenties be ordained as Queen. Mother of four children, her eldest, Prince Charles, the now King of England, waited a long time to become King. Queen Elizabeth promised in her ‘acceptance’ speech that she would never leave her role, certainly to help give her subjects confidence after the shock of King Edward’s abdication. Prince Charles probably never imagined he would wait for his mother’s rule to end 70 years later before he would rule.
Proof of some of the changes of the times is his soon to be Queen, wife Camilla, who would have not been accepted in the past, for not only has she been divorced, but he had a long affair with her which helped to bring about his divorce from the very popular Princess Diana.
Great Britain has a very colorful past, perhaps one of the reasons Americans have always been so fascinated by them. Because America has elected presidents, not inherited titles, as well as presidential term limits our country will never know the long-term rule that made Queen Elizabeth such a world leader for so many decades. The closest thing America has had is the two Roosevelt presidents, Theodore and Franklin, and America’s fascination with the family of President John Kennedy, whose term in office was ended early by assassination. His brother Bobby was also assassinated during his run for president.
A topic of conversation by many is who else would be remembered as a world leader the way Queen Elizabeth has been? I would love to hear your ideas. If you would like to email me your idea, I will include a list of your reactions in one of my next columns. I believe that everyone hopes they will be remembered by family and friends. The larger the circle we live in, the more lives we touch. Our length of life can affect how we are remembered. Actress Marilyn Monroe, for instance, may not have been remembered so well if she had not died young, and beautiful. People who live a long life often have many of their friends and family die before them. This makes the person no less memorable, just less people to remember them. While being honored and remembered is a wonderful thing, for each of us it is the time we are alive, the right now that really matters.