Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elizabeth


Elizabeth

When I was a little girl, London was the place to be. The Beatles had already unlocked the cage of American culture, releasing all sorts of strange and wonderful changes that flew far beyond the ones we heard on the radio. Eyes turned to London for fashion and design as we followed Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, David Hicks and Mary Quant. Carnaby Street took on the magical mystery of the yellow brick road. And through it all, there in the background in head scarf and tweed, encircled by a moat of corgis, was the Queen. Circumspect and enigmatic, she stood on the unbroken line of history, linking past and present in a way those of us in the States could only imagine. I found her fascinating. And I still do.

For someone like myself who possesses a lifelong love of all things British, this is a banner year. The painterly production of Downton Abbey, the amazing performance of Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and just this week, the start of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee year, have all served to reawaken my love of history and, just as when I was little, I find I want to read everything I can. It seems as one gets older, and hopefully gains that precious modicum of wisdom denied to the young, history gains a sharper focus, a greater clarity. We begin to see shades of grey on the great canvas we were once so certain was painted entirely in stark black and white. It all becomes even more interesting.

No matter where one starts in British history, all roads lead to the Queen. Already Sovereign long before I was born, she vowed to devote her life, “whether it be long or short”, to the service of her country when she was just twenty-five years old. She has held fast to that vow, which she took before God, for sixty years. A remarkable feat, particularly when one considers that had her uncle not abdicated the throne when she was a child her life would have been entirely different, her head unburdened by the crown she now wears.

I recently finished a marvelous new book by British journalist, Andrew Marr, entitled The Real Elizabeth and I can solidly recommend it to anyone with more than a passing interest in this woman who has served Britain for sixty years now. The book is revealing, but mercifully not salacious, and it is obvious that Mr. Marr had unparalleled access to those who know Queen Elizabeth II well. He shows us a woman with biting wit and cleverness, fun-loving and caring, who is imbued with a remarkable stamina and devotion to her country that has never waned. It is a history lesson that reads like a novel and it kept me reading when I really should have been doing other things. The Real Elizabeth left me with even more respect for the woman on the throne than I possessed at its start. I had the strong desire at its finish to say to her, “Well Done”.

Living in a country as young as mine, I sometimes long for the depth of history and tradition that permeates the home of my ancestors. I know full well that there are wildly divergent opinions on royalty in Britain, and Lord knows, some of the antics of her children have been questionable, if not downright cringe-worthy. But I can only say, from my side of the pond, I find the Queen to be a wonderfully stabilizing figure. When I compare the malignant circus currently taking place here in my country in this, another election year, I long for someone standing above it all, with enormous dignity, wisdom and grace, who represents the past, present and future of her country in a way we in the states can only dream of.
Britain has a reason to be proud of this woman and to revel in this celebratory year.
Congratulations.


37 comments:

  1. mmm...60 years!! she was on the news today! just respect for this Lady who has to deal with so many difficult things in her life!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmmm... well, I agree with what you said. Growing up, the Queen was always around, on TV, in the papers, not to be forgotten her lovely Corgies, and of course all the souvenirs the tourists buy with what's left of their travel budget :-)
    However, we've got a democracy as well, and many of us feel as if we can't trust the government at all; we're just waiting for another slap in the face. Like, you may have heard or read about the student protests last year (not the riots with the cars and shops set on fire, but there was a bit of violence here and there too) - the reason was, the government allowed colleges and universities to raise the tuition fees to a maximum of... I think it was 8 or 9 thousand GBP. That's 24 / 27 thousands GBP for three years of studying. One of the reasons why I chose to study in my mum's native Germany - I pay just under 600 Euros per semester, less than 4000 Euros for three years. Not saying that the German government is any more trustworthy. The older I get, the more disappointed I am in the leaders.
    So, even though the Queen's everywhere, she doesn't really have a say anymore. For any leading politician in the UK it is of course great to have her on his or her side, but that's about it.

    Btw, saw the picture of your dog Edward in winter! He looks so lovely! I've had a Collie for almost 12 years now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've always liked her too. Dignified and smart. I'm probably biased because she loves horses and dogs, but she seems like she would be fun to have lunch with.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I echo your sentiments exactly.
    I have a great admiration for the Queen --I'll email you a longer response to this!

    ReplyDelete
  5. A lovely tribute to our Queen - we are fortunate indeed to have such a splendid monarch. She has set an example of duty and service to her country that is unparallelled and she deserves the respect and admiration of all her people.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i am an anglophile also. i love all things english. and your comment on the greys of history rather than our younger view of it as a simple black and white, i found so true.
    i was a bit late in coming to love the queen. i always loved the queen mum.
    there is a famous, well played bit of document showing the young queen having just returned from a very long trip. charles, all of three years old, rushes up to her and she gives her son a rather perfunctory pat on his little head and then walks past him.
    that image tainted my thoughts of her for many many years. and is one of the reasons i have always had a soft spot for charles.
    however... she had so much heavy responsibility thrust upon her so early in her life that i have mellowed in my thoughts of her. and she has served her country well, through many ups and downs. and i totally agree with you in wishing we had someone... anyone! who could represent us with dignity and an historical perspective as rich as her own.
    wonderful post, as always!
    love,
    tammy j

    ReplyDelete
  7. Pamela, this is beautifully written. I agree with you. I do admire the queen, and you expressed my feelings perfectly and also made me understand them even better. Her dignity, loyalty, and wisdom and grace as you said make her a figure to be admired. She is a one of a kind, and did you know that in the year 2015 she will have been on the throne longer than Victoria or any British monarch. She and Victoria are the only two that have celebrated Diamond Jubilees. Thanks for this lovely tribute!
    xx Sunday

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a coincidence Pamela, I have just watched Part I of Andrews Marr's series about Elizabeth on BBC1 and very good it is too. I am not a monarchist (even though there is a line in my family tree which connects directly to many royal lines) but I do have to admire the Queen. I was an admirer of Princess Diana too but some members of the Royal family I am not so enamoured with.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dignity, respect tradition...so much that has gone by the wayside in our country. Truthfully I cannot stand to watch the election coverage.

    Wonderful post Pamela.

    xoxo

    Karena
    Art by Karena

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for your post!
    Just bought the book, still waiting to be read!
    She is admirably strong and a lady of the old queenly quality!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to our Queen Pamela. She has been a monarch almost beyond reproach, and the Duke of Edinburgh has shown great fortitude at her side. I was raised to respect more than love the Royal Family, and that I have done despite not living in England for such a long time.

    60 years at the same job, and yes it is a job, is almost unheard of. Even my dear hubby has only made it to 52 years at the same company!

    I have a coupon for Barnes & Noble so think I'll go shopping for the book tomorrow!!

    Agan, lovely post dear.
    Hugs - Mary

    ReplyDelete
  12. A lovely tribute, Pamela. We are of the same generation as Elizabeth and Philip, and have always admired them, held them high in our affections and had great empathy for all the tribulations in her family life, - the same as many of us, but so public in their case. She has great integrity and an incredible sense of responsibility and trust. A beautiful woman.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Those of us young and old who live in the Colonies have a very soft spot for this Lady.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I do not always agree with the concept of the Monarchy, but I find Elizabeth Royal to be a compelling figure, and with a solid duty to her country. I am deep in French works at the moment but I'm adding this to my reading list!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beautiful post Pamela, and yes, she is remarkable. How many other people can we think of who manage to execute their job so faultlessly and that for 60 years. Not sure what will follow her reign but this Queen has done us proud to be sure
    Sharon
    x

    ReplyDelete
  16. That was lovely. HRH is our Queen too and there will be celebrations across the country.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The last sovereign my grandparents knew. Queen during much of my parents lifetime. Queen for all of my fifty odd years. Queen for the lifetime of the 'gannets '. Maybe 'briefly , Queen for the next generation . She represents continuity . A virtue much lacking .

    ReplyDelete
  18. She is formidable! What a wonderful flattering portrait. Wonderful post dear one!
    Di
    X

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for a beautifully-written and heartfelt tribute to our Queen. I found it because Penny, from Lifeonthecutoff's Blog, postedthe post I did yesterday on the same subject.

    Having watched the first part of Andrew Marr's documentary last night, I am filled with awe at the thought of this 85yr-old woman, at an age when most of us would be relaxing with our grandchildren and our knitting, still conscientiously reading government papers to keep abreast of what is being planned and done. She has been the background to almost all my life.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautifully written, Pamela! Enjoyed every word! Maybe I can download that book you recommend to my tablet! Fun reading ANYWHERE!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've enjoyed reading your post on the Queen. As an American married to an Englishman and living in Ireland, I have come to see her in a new light. Her visit to Ireland last spring meant a great deal to most of the Irish and many of them also saw her anew, and appreciated the great respect she showed to their country. She keeps a schedule that would exhaust most 30-year-olds and has engendered goodwill for Great Britain all over the world. She is stalwart, private, and dignified. Of how many world leaders can that be said? I also watched the Andrew Marr program last night and am looking forward to the second part.

    ReplyDelete
  22. this fellow anglophile roundly concurs with all your sentiments. i hope to be going back in june then again in july.......they will be front and center with the olympics too, yes a season to celebrate!

    thank you for the book recommendation pamela, it had not come to my attention yet

    oh and yes, i shared those years of the beetles, twiggy, et al and was entranced
    xo
    debra

    ReplyDelete
  23. Another good choice Pamela ... As usual well done.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Elizabeth became Queen the year before I was born (her coronation in 1953, was the month before I was born), do I feel some affinity to her and this celebration. She promised, the day she took office to serve the country and the people for her entire life. Obviously a woman of her word.

    ReplyDelete
  25. It looks like an interesting book. My daughter is working on a term paper about the first Queen Elizabeth and her choice not to marry. I wonder if someone will write a book comparing the two, on powerful and the other figurative but both strong women. I can't wait to see Iron Lady when it comes here.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hello! I just found your blog and I think it's AMAZING! The pics are great and I can see that You really like what you do here! I love people with great ideas, like you!
    Your blog is inspiring! I will follow you!
    xoxo

    http://nikandpic.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yes, Pamela -
    Duty and Service; the Queen has done both for as many years as I've lived. I admire her greatly and think she's been a wonderful role model for so many women, certainly for me. In the face of both adversity and happiness, she's held her head high, in public at least, and while it's easier to do so in happiness, she has always shown great strength, both physical and in character while in adversity.
    God Save The Queen!

    ReplyDelete
  28. She is still a very beautiful woman Pamela isn't she - even well into her eighties. I love the way her laughter lines have developed.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love her .. for so many reasons.
    Not only is my grandmother named after her ( great gran was from England) but for as long as I can remember, the family has spoken of her as if we all lived in England and saw her daily !
    She has been a fixture in my life.
    I hope she rules and lives for many more years, Long Live the Queen ~

    ReplyDelete
  30. I read Andrew Marr's book The Making of Modern Britain not long ago and found it quite interesting. I think the monarchy went through a shaky time around the Diana years and I think Tony Blair - for all that he seems relatively unpopular now - did some pretty good work around pulling the royal family through that period onto better ground. I hope she is able to beat Queen Victoria's record of 63 years; that would be one way of leaving a distinct mark behind her.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm in desterate need of a new book to read Pamela, and have always wanted to become more aquainted with the Queen...this sounds perfect!
    xo J~

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hello Pamela

    A beautiful tribute to HRH. I have had the pleasure of meeting her on a number of occasions at Buckingham Palace. When I first met her almost 25 years ago I was so taken by her beauty, her interest in each person she meets and her commitment to her people. I shall always remember when my late mother met and shook hands with the Queen she whispered to me "I felt like an electric shock". Pamela you have brought back many memories for which I thank you.

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  33. I heartily agree with your sentiments toward this remarkable woman. I am heading out this weekend to acquire the book...sounds facinating!

    ReplyDelete
  34. It is good to have a head of state who stands above the political fray. We are very fond of Mrs Queen, as we call her, in our family. We would also like her to continue to be Queen of the United Kingdom ie not of a country fractured by Scottish independence.

    ReplyDelete
  35. A lovely post. I'm a long-term Britphile myself.

    ReplyDelete

I love to read your comments! Each and every one!