Watching the events that have transpired since the Queen’s passing, I would feel remiss if I didn’t express my feelings in my little blog about someone whom I have admired all of my life. It all started when I was a kid and my cousins from England came to visit us. Margaret and Charles introduced me to the Royal Family with their stories, their mementos that they shared with us, and left me with a book about the Queen. In the following years, I followed the Royal Family with interest, but particularly the Queen who I found out was amazingly benevolent to charities and worthy causes around the world. By circumstance, she became Queen at a young age and has ruled for 70 years- longer than I have been alive. I have followed her for all of my life and although I don’t put most political figures or monarchy figures on a pedestal- the Queen was the exception for me. I felt like I knew her for some reason and she was really a model for the citizenry of Britain and people worldwide. I know you can’t live forever and at 96- she had a full life and died peacefully at Balmoral. But something struck me that day that I still am coming to grips with now.
When you see the amazing crowds of people who lined the streets to see the funeral procession, you can get a sense of what the British people felt about their monarch. It is said that the line to view her bier got to be 5 miles long with people waiting for days to pass by and pay their respects. The interviews with the people are so touching and in some way, I feel like I have lost someone too. People of that generation are to be greatly admired. They survived the great war, depression, and the Queen led the British for such a long time. The interesting thing is that the British economy is suffering and there are issues arising for energy this winter in the U.K. But if you ask any Brit- they will tell you that they have nothing but the highest admiration for the Queen and the pomp and circumstance of the monarchy is something that they hold with the deepest regard. They love the Queen and love the Monarchy. It is a source of pride when they tell people they are from Great Britain. Sure there is the minority who wishes to dissolve the Monarchy, but that has been put aside for the moment with the 10 days of mourning in Great Britain.
I had the opportunity years ago to ride my road bike through Great Britain. Riding on the opposite side of the road was interesting as it was when I cycled through Ireland, but I enjoyed the challenge- riding and walking. It was an amazing journey that took me to Stonehenge, the great cathedrals of England including Salisbury Cathedral where I saw the Magna Carta. I visited Windsor Castle and saw Henry the Eight’s suit of armor. I went to the evensong services in the afternoons in the cathedrals, and sat in with the choirs. It made me think I was in Heaven listening to the angels. They were so supportive and beckoned me to come in and sit with them. I cycled around the Isle of Wight and had high tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. When I told the server that it was perhaps the best thing I have ever tasted, she looked at me quizzically and said,” Where are you from ? The Moon?” We had a good laugh about that one. I remember riding the T in London and exiting at all the famous sites like the Tower of London where I saw the Crown Jewels. I sat outside Buckingham Palace and thought that a woman that I admired so much was inside as I saw the Royal flag flying on the roof indicating the presence of the Queen. Everywhere I went, there were images of the Queen and Prince Phillip. Even the fire hydrants, phone booths and fence posts were adorned with a crown and the letters ER on them. This was for Elizabeth Regina and I found out later that Regina was not her middle name but really meant Queen. Elizabeth Regina- Elizabeth Queen.
There will be 200 heads of state attending the funeral and not one of them is admired as much as the Queen. If there was ever a leader of the free world, it was Elizabeth. People worldwide admired her, liked her, and respected her. The Prime Minister and Parliament actually run the country but nothing happened without a consultation with the Queen who was passive in her judgements but nonetheless sought out for her opinion. King Charles may be more involved but he has some mighty shoes to fill.
Speaking of King Charles- he and I have the same birthday and I always sent him a card when I was in college when he was the Prince of Wales. Never got a response but wondered if he ever got them? The Prince of Wales, c/o Buckingham Palace, London, England. LOL!!
The Queen’s generation is quickly fading away. It was said a few years ago that we were losing the Greatest Generation by 1000 a day. I think of my uncle the B-25 pilot in the great war. What he went through as a pilot and as a POW in Japan for a year. That generation was tough and I am wondering what my generation will leave people in the future? What will we leave our children and grandchildren? That is what I was thinking about when I heard of the Queen’s passing. She was a member of that generation and greatly admired. I am hoping that my son will keep and pass on the values that his mother and I have tried to instill in him. I hope that he can have some heroes like my Uncle Jack and the Queen. She was not only a monarch but in many ways, a mother to us all. Like the Brits, we looked up to her for most of our lives. RIP Elizabeth Regina. Thanks for reading.