Let us now praise Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. It would be churlish not to.
It may even be time for us, the American cousins and former colonials, to embrace all things English, as we are wont to do when royal ceremonials break out across the pond. We swoon at royal weddings, cry at royal funerals and stand in awe as the United Kingdom celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, marking her 60th year as her nation’s reigning monarch.
We have won the revolution which turned us into Americans, but somewhere in our hearts and movie memories, there will always be an England. Like the English themselves, we are in thrall (although, like the English, sometimes reluctantly and rebelliously) to all things regal and royal. Somehow, in the act of separation, someone forgot to take out that gene which makes do that little bow when we are in the royal receiving line. But so few of us are.
Like Queen Victoria, with whom she shares longevity on the throne, the longer she reigns, the sturdier she seems. No doubt Prince Charles sometimes wonders just how short the age of Charles III will be should he ever succeed to the throne.
The queen has sometimes gotten a bum rap both here and in her own country for not showing her emotions very often, for her corgies, for a certain dowdiness. But that sturdiness has also been her strength ever since she became queen in the guise of a shy, lovely young English rose. Periodically, the English go through bouts of sneering at the monarchy (the most recent of which was the contratemps surrounding the death of Diana,the Princess of Wales, and the crush of worldwide grief that followed). She has, in fact, carried her duties with honor and influence, and a grace that is all her own, falling in quite nicely when greeted as “queenie” by a D.C. resident whom she visited a couple of decades ago.
She — and all the ceremonial attachments to the monarchy — and she, alone, reminds us that Great Britain was once a great world empire. “Rule Britannia,” indeed. Everyone knows the coach will be out, the soldiers will march and the once colonials will pay the respects from all over the world. All the royals and quasi-royals will come out, and they will cheer the commoner duchess and the queen’s grandsons. Prince Phillip will walk stiffly, and the queen will smile and wave, and be loved for herself. It will be the kind of spectacle that will remind us of Shakespeare, of Shaw and Dickens, Pip and Falstaff, of the Scots, the Brits, the Welsh and Irish and cricket, (the game not Jiminy) and music halls, and Winston and the finest hour.
The queen’s reign coincided with the rise of the celebrity and paparazzi culture, and the royals were the biggest celebrities of all, climaxing in the rise and demise of Princess Di.
But the queen, like Victoria, like Elizabeth I, has endured. A diamond indeed.
God bless us everyone, and God bless the queen.