Turns out I’m a royalist! (If that is indeed the right word!) Who knew?! First a little background…
Like most people I know (who are not British), my fascination with Buckingham Palace and its inhabitants began when Prince Charles married Diana, in what to me is still the fairytale wedding of my lifetime! (I say wedding, please note…not marriage!) I was young enough then, to believe that two people who had that kind of wedding, would be together forever because of course they loved each other insanely and with abandon! Well, we all know better now! After ‘The’ wedding, I went on with my life and for all practical purposes, the Royal family ceased to exist unless I ran into their latest escapades on the news (Fairly regularly!), which were never very complimentary to any of them. In typical fashion, the only time they engaged my attention again was when Lady Di (I understand so much better now how hard her life must have been), died so tragically. Even then, I mourned her loss more because she was young, beautiful, and so full of life & promise, and because nobody (Princess or otherwise), deserves such a brutal death. It didn’t matter so much about her being a Princess or an ex-Princess (I seem to remember a lot of fuss over whether she could keep the HRH title or not, after her divorce, and thinking at that time, that would be the last thing on her mind!). After her death, the Royals rescinded once again as I went about the business of my life.
A few weeks ago, a new series on BBC Entertainment, called Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work, rekindled my interest in all things Queenly 🙂 Yes I confess, I discovered a new-found affection for Her Majesty 🙂 I put it down to my innate love for all things British 😉 Notice I say the Queen, this time! I’m no longer interested in the rest of the Royal household, not even with the nuptials of the world’s most eligible Prince 😛 I wish the Royal couple much happiness, but there’s just not that same fairy-tale quality about them (which is probably a good thing, all things considered!). Blame it on me being older and wiser or on the fact that I’ve seen it all before! No this time, it’s the Monarch herself who fascinates me! Unsurprising really given her life-history!
The series focuses on the work-aspect of her life as Queen and I think that’s what’s caught my fancy. I remember jostling for space outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, waiting for the Change of Guard, wondering what it must be like to live in a palace and be a Queen. Her reality so far removed from mine! Yet as I watch this series, and her work-life unfold, I realize being a Queen is not just about the jewels and carriage rides and adulation from the adoring minions (although I’m sure that helps!). It’s about endless meetings & handshakes & small talk with Heads of State, the clergy and staff; it’s about always having to be proper in public and protocol, protocol, protocol; it’s about having to live your entire life under public scrutiny (You couldn’t pay me to do that!), with dignity and grace. In short, it’s a lot of hard work & pressure and it takes a special kind of person to handle it. She’s a strong lady and I never thought of her that way before.
One episode featured a state visit by the President of Ghana and it was amazing, the amount of planning and attention to detail that went into a single visit! They were planning for a year before the visit, right down to the route the Queen would lead her guests on inside the Palace! Nothing was left to chance and every eventuality thought of and planned for. And still, on the day, the lift that the President’s wife was to use, stopped working and I watched in amusement as the staff and the Queen pondered options until Prince Phillip thought of the Staff Lift 😉 (Even in the best run households people!). I watched the preparations for a state banquet, in fascination! Extraordinary! The one-of-a-kind china, gleaming silver, sparkling crystal chandeliers and goblets, the liveried staff – everything immaculate and ready for Her Majesty’s inspection! The sheer opulence and grandeur of the setting can I’m sure, be rather intimidating to the guests, Presidents though they may be! It blew my commoner’s mind 🙂 The Queen herself came around for a look before the banquet and she was like any other good host, making sure everything was in readiness and perfect for her guests!
So far, I’ve watched her open Parliament in an extravagant ceremony of pomp & splendor; sign letters; make speeches; greet troops; meet clergy; and travel on a State visit to Estonia with Prince Phillip. In every undertaking, I find her manner charming and down to earth and I love that, especially in a woman so used to adulation and having her every wish obeyed. It can’t be easy being pleasant all the time, still less in public gaze but she handles it with aplomb. I understand that she’s being doing this all her life and that’s what makes it so remarkable to someone like me, so far removed from her life, and yet able in some way to identify. Isn’t that the sign of a good ruler? The team of dedicated staff that keeps the entire show going is impressive to say the least! From her personal secretary; to her ladies in waiting (who answer mail on her behalf); to the Crown Jeweler (the only man allowed to touch those precious gems honey!); to the countless butlers and pages and groomsmen and secretaries and chefs…everyone plays a part in keeping the wonderful tradition of the Monarchy alive.
I’ve learnt a few things too! Did you know once a meeting is done, the Queen presses a discreet buzzer and her attendants open the doors to usher out her guests! I wonder when’s the last time she ever had to open a door herself 😛 Her Majesty’s throne is a few inches higher than Prince Phillips in the House of Lords, because no one may sit higher than the Queen, not even her husband 😉 The Crown Jewels reside in the Jewel Tower in the Tower of London, and travel by a secret route every time they have to leave! The magnificent Crown, her father’s, was altered to fit her smaller head and made lighter and more feminine! 2012, will be the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year, when she completes 60 years as Sovereign. That makes her I think the longest ruling Monarch in history! Pretty cool. I was so wrapped with the London Olympics in 2012, I never thought of that! Another reason to visit my favorite place on Earth next year 🙂 Her favorite tipple is Gin & Dubonnet (had to Google that) and she likes her seafood served traditionally – no fusion here! There’s a Royal Train (in the process of being converted to bio-diesel) that I am hoping will be featured in future episodes 🙂
I know there’s been an ongoing debate in Britain about the Monarchy and about how it’s an expensive proposition. I don’t get a vote in the matter, but I do hope it stays! It would be tragic to lose such a fine slice of history. Me, I’m a fan! I think it’s wonderful that we still have a Queen and her Monarchy. I love watching her Life unfold and am looking forward to learning a lot more about her through this very informative series 🙂
Happy Weekend People 🙂