Those of you who know me (that would be roughly twelve people) know that I am not a fan of the monarchy. Actually, ‘not a fan’ hardly covers it. I have had, for as long as I can remember, a deep and abiding loathing for the monarchy. I’ve always considered the monarchy to be the antithesis of everything it means to be a Canadian in a democratic, egalitarian society. When I was a kid, my greatest act of rebellion was not singing God Save the Queen in school (I was not a very rebellious child). The very notion that one family should be elevated to a position of superiority simply because of their bloodlines is so wrong, so anti-democratic, so antiquated, it has no place in 21st century Canada, or even 20th century Canada for that matter.
So here we are, celebrating 60 years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, and I find myself actually LIKING the old gal. Not the institution, mind you, which is rotten to the core. But the Queen herself has won me over.
Liz is, by any standards, a remarkable person. She has been a constant in British and Canadian lives for six decades, and in that time she has lived an exemplary life of pure service. Over sixty years she has greeted umpteen millions of people as if she was absolutely fascinated to meet them. She has toured everything from the grandest palaces to sewage plants with the same apparent fascination. She has traveled the world and watched god knows how many ceremonial dances with the same level of interest (I imagine she has found a way to go into a semi-comatose state, then waken herself when the music stops). In all the world, she is the last living link to the leadership of World War II, when even as a princess she worked on cars in the motor pool.
Her record as a head of state if almost unblemished, the only exception being her tardy response to the death of Princess Diana. When it seemed that all of Britain was awash in tears, the Queen herself was seemingly indifferent to the tragedy. It wasn’t until the public outcry became so great that the Queen finally decided to show herself. When she did, all was forgiven. But even her reaction, which it offended many, was entirely in keeping with the way she was raised. Stiff upper lip, keep your emotions in check, keep calm and carry on, all that classic British stuff. You couldn’t expect the Queen to throw out all those years of training and appear in public weeping over someone who she probably could barely tolerate.
Aside from that misstep (which should not have been unexpected by anyone), she Queen has sailed along above the fray. While her children have been involved in all manner of tawdry scandals that have tarnished the House of Windsor, there has never been a whiff of scandal involving the Queen herself.
Am I going soft in my old age, saying all these nice things about the Queen. Well, maybe just a big. I would still love nothing more than to see Canada jettison the monarchy sometime in my lifetime (it’ll never happen, I know), you still have to tip your crown to someone who has done their job so well, for so long. Someday, the Queen will die, and the throne will be taken over by her eccentric oldest son Charles (sorry, kids, there will be no King William for many, many decades, and by the time he’s king, he’ll be bald and old). While you’ve got to admire Charles for being his own many despite being the ultimate mama’s boy, King Charles will not be remotely as beloved as Queen Elizabeth. Maybe, and only maybe then will Canadians at least consider jettisoning this ridiculous anachronism, and act like a real grown up nation.
But that’s not going to happen for a long, long time. I have a feeling that I’m going to feel compelled to write another blog in about 15 years when, when Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 75th year on the throne.