These last years have been quite eventful for Queen Elizabeth. In September 2015, QE II sailed on, outlasting Queen Victoria reign of 63 years, 26 days. Last year, she celebrated birthday 90. This past February, she celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee: 65 years on the throne. This coming November, she and Prince Phillip will celebrate 70 years of marriage. How many get to have a Platinum Anniversary?
According to Wikipedia, she now stands in 48th place among the longest reigning monarchs of the world. Those reigning longer: all men. The longest reigning, I see, was Sobhuza of Swaziland, who reigned for almost 83 years. He must have been exhausted!
This year, Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, was ninety-one. I always remember her birthday. Always. Why? Because it is also my sister’s birthday: April 21. When I discovered that fact, I was delighted, especially since from an early age, oh, about ten or eleven, I thought the Queen was our Queen. After all, what’s a country without a President and a Queen? I thought that was the way it worked: one male for the business stuff, one female for the ceremony stuff. Remember, I was only ten or so.
If you were a Queen, and your birthday was in April, and that was a rainy month in your England, wouldn’t you want to really celebrate in month with a “higher probability of fine weather?” England’s monarchs have been doing this since the middle of the 1700’s. Come a fine Saturday in June, June 10 this year, the Queen will first inspect her troops. She once did this, wearing full military uniform, from horseback. Now she rides in a carriage, and you can be sure her handbag is close by.* She will join the parade down The Mall on home to Buckingham Palace, there will be the Trooping of the Colour near St. James Park, and it will all end with a flyover by the Royal Air Force. (Excuse me, they call it a “fly-past”)
|Were's her handbag?|
I am an Anglophile, and an Elizabethophile. (Or should that just be an Elizabethan?) I love all the colour and pomp and ceremony. Not everyone does. There are those who say the monarchy is obsolete and the cost to the nation is too great. While these sentiments are ever-present, they swell back into the forefront of the news any time there is a grand event, like the birthday celebrations, or a wedding, or a coronation. In actuality, the royal family foot a lot of their own bills, and the public, to the tune of less than $1 per person per year, foot the bills for things security, international entertaining, and a laundry list of other things. Many think the tourism jobs and dollars brought in far offset the cost of the monarchy. Many anti-monarchists would like to have a republic with an elected head, a Supreme Court, and a written constitution, none of which they now have. They feel that the Queen should have the distinction of being Great Britain’s last monarch. But around 80% of the British population approve of the monarchy, and we can’t foresee that it will be abolished in the near future.
Meanwhile, sail on QE II.
|Ah, there it is. Mia has it.|
*Like the question “What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt?” the other burning question from the British Isles is “What does the Queen carry in her handbag?” She usually carries a comb, mirror and lipstick, a £5 or £10 note for any collection plate that might come her way, her eye glasses, and maybe some mints. Like many women, she may carry personal trinkets given to her by family members. Though we don’t know if it is in there at all times, the Queen does have a mobile phone to keep in touch with her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She carries no passport or personal identification – she doesn’t own them or need them. So, less than you might think, because her ladies-in-waiting do carry things like clean gloves and a sewing kit and safety pins for emergencies, but more than just a penny to spend in the loo.