Long live the Queen and her dignity, ideals
June 6, 2012
Queen Elizabeth and I are on track to celebrate our diamond jubilees. She’s been queen for 60 years; I have merely existed for almost that long.
After you, your majesty.
The entire year of jubilation is a buzz of pageantry and pomp throughout the Commonwealth, but the diamond jewel in the crown of celebration was this past weekend. Brits got a special day off, and the Queen led an unprecedented flotilla of more than a thousand boats on the River Thames.
In 1960, I went to England and saw the Queen. It sounds like something A.A. Milne would write about concerning Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, but it happened, in Edinburgh, on a sunny Saturday in June. I remember the long wait, the polite onlookers who let a 7-year-old from America stand where she could see the regal carriage and trademark wave. Most of all, I remember that it happened.
The Queen has endured nearly as much family drama and trauma as the stateside Kennedy clan. Elizabeth II has been Queen so long – only Queen Victoria has ruled more than 60 years – that she’s even been depicted in movies while still alive and reigning. She was an aware and loving child in “The King’s Speech,” about her father’s struggle to conquer a speech impediment. Helen Mirren starred (along with some Welsh corgies) in “The Queen” as the lonely and intense monarch-matriarch in the aftermath of the traumatic death of Princess Diana.
It is true, “It’s not easy being Queen.” Most of us can choose our destiny; monarchs inherit theirs. Lots of responsibility and little authority under a constitutional monarchy is a daunting enduring task. The prime minister calls the shots and parries with Parliament while the Queen makes it look like she has everything under control.
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“Keep calm and carry on” was used by the British government in 1939 to encourage its citizens to be brave during World War II. A year later, Princess Elizabeth, 14, gave her first radio address for city children who were sent to the countryside to avoid German bombing. She said, “We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know every one of us, that in the end all will be well.”
Queen Elizabeth has embodied that wartime motto during the past 60 years of change, strife, tragedy and challenge. She has the gift of making the dignity and ideals of the past relevant in the modern world. Long live the Queen!
• Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.