3 January 2015

Queen

We met up with some old friends between Christmas and New Year - over a meal at the "Rama's Bridge" restaurant in Crookes. I have known John for 37 years and quite separately met Irene about 33 years ago. Almost bizarrely and unbeknown to me, they later got together after earlier relationships had gone sour and they had both experienced the trauma of divorce. It was quite a surprise when I discovered they'd found each other as at that time John lived out in the South Yorkshire sticks while Irene and her two little boys lived just around the corner from our old terraced house in Sheffield 10.

There are some friends with whom the ambience is so comfortable that conversation just tumbles out naturally - like a little mountain stream - just babbling along  and the four of us could talk together till the cows come home about football, children, holidays, food, films and even my nasty friend Gordon Gout who also happens to visit John from time to time. However, over the meal we discovered a difference of opinion that we had not realised beforehand.

For some reason we got on to The Queen and our royal family. It was clear that both John and Irene are anti-monarchists who resent what they see as a costly and pointless anachronism in our midst. In contrast, Shirley and I are proud of  Queen Elizabeth II, proud of the way she has represented our country these last sixty three years and more than comfortable with the continuing existence of the British monarchy. (Adrian is foaming at the mouth at this point)

Irene asked, "But what has she done for us? What has she done for you?"

Since the meal at Crookes, I have been pondering that question. And there is a sense in which The Queen hasn't done anything for us. She hasn't made us any curtains or ironed a basket of laundry. She hasn't sent us a nice fat cheque when money was short or climbed on the roof to fix our television aerial. But what she has done is to provide a wholesome national symbolism - a calm and intelligent point of reference in a swirling, chaotic world. She stands for continuity and national pride as politicians and charlatans have come and gone like the leaves from autumn trees. Elizabeth has been there - dignified, part of a line that travels way back in history. She is on our stamps and our coins and for me and Shirley, like the majority of Britons,  she is in our hearts. (Adrian has collapsed)

Though I am all for Elizabeth II and for Charles III and William V and much later George VII - what I am very much against is all the other privileged and aristocratic hangers-on. The dukes and the earls, the lesser royals and so on. If I had my way, they would all have to work for a living and dwell in ordinary houses like the rest of us. They'd be bus drivers and health care assistants, farm labourers and shopkeepers. None of the usual aristocratic social whirl - The Henley Regatta, The Badminton Horse Trials, Wimbledon, Cowes. No banquets or grouse shooting. No tax breaks or tweeds and certainly no FA Cup Final tickets. They would have to queue up for hours like the rest of us.

But as for our happy and glorious Queen Elizabeth II, it will be one of the saddest days of my life when The Grim Reaper finally takes her to his dark and deathly cavern. The whole world will be watching. Until then -  God Save The Queen!

22 comments:

  1. I'm with you and Shirley. Obviously, the Queen of England has done nothing for me, a citizen of the good ole US of A, but how would we have lived without the dream? Every little girl dreams of being a princess.....and then Queen of her own castle. Imagining a life of ease & luxury, living in a castle, waited on hand and foot....Keep the dream, England, if for nothing else than an imaginary perfect life, a place to disappear in one's head for awhile.....Goodness knows, the reality is quite different, of course.

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    1. If y'all apologise for The American War of Independence we can co-opt the USA once more and you will become part of Great Britain - just like Wales and Scotland. Then our Queen will be your Queen too. No more presidents!

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    2. If this will do away with our current President, I'm for shaking hands on it right now and getting on with our new life! (Do I need to say that in a 'funny' accent?.....)

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    3. As part of the agreement Mr Obama will become Prince Barack of the Hawaiian Islands and a suitable castle will be built for him on Maui - paid for by the citizens of Washington State. In England, we really like the fellow.

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    4. A lot of us in Scotland like him too.

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  2. My son-in-law feels much the same as you do, Mr. Pudding. We have talked of the monarchy a few times and he feels that the citizens would be, at least for a number of decades, discombobulated without that formal structure. But as for the peers and lords and such, he feels the same as you. Get a job, already! Having sweated and struggled to enter and graduate from Oxford, he is also resentful of those offspring that are automatically admitted and wile away their time there by partying and goofing-off.

    I did want to marry Prince Charles when I was a little girl, even tho he was a couple of years younger than I. However, I wouldn't have him now even if you gave him to me! Seems like a very boring chap.

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    1. I think I can sense some uncharacteristic "sour grapes" Mama Thyme. Just because Lady Diana and Camilla got there before you!

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  3. I totally approve of any aristocracy that will continue to preserve their historical buildings for everyone. The only thing our upper class does in the U.S. is dabble in things that will give them a tax write off as they figure new ways to screw over the populace for even more money. Your royalty is about the only thing I've seen that seems to be immune to Fox News. Keep them. They don't even need to be perfect to be so much better than the alternatives.

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    1. I see what you are getting at. Though they have wealth, our royal family is not primarily about the trappings of money. They don't flaunt it.

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  4. I'm with you YP, I love 'em too though I'm glad our taxes don't go to supporting the hangers-on on the fringes.

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    1. I think we will send Prince Andrew over to Australia. He can live there with you - perhaps in St Andrews, Victoria.

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  5. I am not going to be dragged into this. Well okay just a little bit. Is Airmiles Andy still a member of this illustrious family? Or is he now a Subject?

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    1. He is now a subject of conversation. Not Staid Ade but Randy Andy. You might see him pulling up in a camper van. He'll be wearing sunglasses.

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  6. The Queen always looks so nice (I love her outfits, hats in particular) and due to her age and place in history I can see how she would be very beloved, but the younger members of the royal family leave me cold. Especially Charles and his generation (including the sainted Diana).

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    1. Oh Jennifer! You didn't love St Diana - The Queen of Hearts? ...To tell you the truth I was quite perplexed by her funeral and the adulation that followed her death. As for Charles, I think he will certainly "do" as our next monarch. He has made some admirable stands regarding architecture and agriculture and seems genuinely interested in people. His Prince's Trust has helped out many young people in various ways.

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    2. It boggles the mind to consider where architecture and agriculture would be without Prince Charles....

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    3. In Britain Charles has been very influential in the organic farming movement and in the production of free range meat. His architectural message has been about the importance of form in times that seemed to often be driven by functionality and costing. When he is king I shall write to President Hillary Clinton and tell her not to include Canton, Georgia in his celebratoryroyal tour of America.

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  7. I would love to pitch you against my house guest for tonight who is a retired teacher of some intellect (just like your good self) and who (like you and, in this, like me too) has untold wealth and lives in a palace compared with the majority of the world's population. He and Adrian would see eye to eye on this subject. However, despite my socialist (no one seems to use that word any more) tendencies I feel that the current monarch has been a wonderful stabilising influence. All leaders (be it of countries or religions or whatever) are in their positions as a result of something the rest of the population has less of to put them in that position: powerful business interests; corruption; fear; family being some that immediately spring to mind. To me our present monarch is perhaps the most statesmanlike and 'solid' leader in the world today albeit that she is a constitutional monarch with no executive powers only royal prerogatives. In the event that she ever had to use them (in the event, for example, of the collapse of government) I would trust her to use them wisely (or more wisely than I would trust of any politician alive today).

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    1. Once again we are in harmony Graham. Oh, and I applaud your "socialist" confession. It is funny that even The Labour Party appear to have consigned this term to the store cupboard of history. We are lucky to have had Elizabeth II and also lucky that she has set the bar high for Charles and William.

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  8. I lean towards your thoughts, too, Yorky. I think Liz has done her job well...she is respected and loved by many. She's a strong lady...and has always been a lady. Some would prefer not to have the monarchy...but the world is changing enough as it is (and not in a good way)...the Lefties should leave well enough alone. And I will now leave this subject alone....except I wonder how Andrew is going to get out of his mess....

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    1. How is Andrew going to get out of his mess? Probably in a thong and a leather balaclava with brass studs.

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