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Hester
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« on: September 09, 2022, 09:47:13 PM »

Over the next while it would be great to see  our private reflections - brief or longform- on what QEII meant to us. Away from the noise and “arrangements” and public business…. So here’s a space.
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2022, 01:04:24 AM »

I, for one, will miss the parade of brooches.  QEII did have a love affair with them and must have the ultimate collection!  I loved to see how she would match the brooch with the outfit, the significance of the event or date and how often they tied into something to do with Phillip, her father or her mother.  I truly hope Anne, Sophie, Catherine, Beatrice, Eugenie, Zara and Louise each are left at least one or several that the Queen felt would be significant to each, kind of similar to the crown scenario.  I also think it would be a wonderful tribute if each one wore one of her brooches for the funeral.

Going to miss the brooch parade!! 🥹
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2022, 08:04:39 AM »

I'm a historian (art historian) so my mind always goes back to the past. I think about the role of Queens in British history, and how good it has been for Great Britain to have a reigning queen. Elizabeth I - Victoria - now Elizabeth II. Even Mary and Anne, the Stuart queens, have lately received more positive attention. But there is no doubt that the two Elizabeths and Victoria have been extraordinary queens, embodying their eras, not only for their own country. I wish that George will one day have an eldest Victoria... but no, nobody can know whether George will ever be crowned king, that's just a sentimental idea...

The Queen has always been an enigma. I have read every book written about her, and none of them has really revealed much about her. Queen Victoria is much easier to know - her outspokenness in letters and diaries make it much easier to see her as three dimensional, flawed and fascinating character. E II understood that she had to protect her private person in this age of press intrusion, and she has.

The more archaic the institution of monarchy seems, the more fascinating it becomes. None of the other European monarchies have this effect on public imagination - most people outside of this forum don't even know the Belgians or Norwegians have a king (and good kings, as far as I can see). The death of EII made first headlines all over the world. In a way, she became a queen of the whole world, the embodiment of monarchy stepping slowly into modern times without losing its aura. A difficult balance act, and I can't see Charles or William able of a similar success. Being a woman helped no doubt. As female authority figure, she broke the stereotypical equation of power and masculinity, and her colourful way of dressing, gentle voice and ladylike behaviour made her stand out whenever she was photographed with world leaders. She seemed to say: don't excpect power, wisdom and authority to wear a dark suit and speak with a loud, deep voice.

After the First World War, the German, Russian and Austrian monarchies were abolished, with all their problematic, precarious and deeply unfair splendour. The World has moved on from the idea of heritary authority. The British monarchy has survived although non-Brits probably flinch like me (a German) when a woman kissed Charles' hand yesterday in front of Buckingham Palace. I wouldn't kiss anyone's hand, neither King nor Pope, but still, I was moved watching Charles and Camilla stepping into their destiny and their palace.

The Queen was inspiring with her constant, careful modernizing of the institution of monarchy, backed by her husband. Charles and William have to take care not to make too many changes too quickly, otherwise the monarchy will lose its aura and people won't accept all this privilege given to them anymore. I'm sure the Queen has taught them her way of looking at things.

I'm sad that she has passed, just as I was sad for her husband. It's the end of a life well lived, a death in much better circumstances than many other people, with optimal care and in loving surroundings. Her faith must have given her strength to deal with death - she has planned her own funeral a long time ago and has been confronted with the consequences of her own death for decades. Who else has spelled it out to them so clearly what will happen once they close their eyes? No one else was London Bridge whose falling down was expected sooner or later.

The Queen had time to grow into this unbelievably iconic figure. Don't forget: had she died in the 70s or 80s, when she appeared just like a middle-aged, grumpy lady overshadowed by the more colourful and youthful younger generation of her family, and when the spot of the amiable matriarch with the spine of steel was held by her mother - then her memory would have looked completely different. The aftermath of Diana's death may have been the point of change for her. Once her hair was pure white, she entered the Olympus of the public figures. In a way, untouchable. She also seemed to open up, to smile more, to radiate harmony and acceptance. Dignified like Queen Mary, but with a sense of humour and a twinkle like the Queen Mother.

These are some of the things going through my mind. My personal belief is that we'll meet again, all of us, and that her parents, sister and husband waited for her on the other side, together with Grandpa England, Uncle David and Diana (who craved her love). The end of life is the end of conflict and struggle, and it's the big reconciliation and recognition.




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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2022, 02:36:57 PM »

Lovely eulogy, Carreen!
And good idea for a thread, Hester.
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2022, 04:03:03 PM »

Careen, that was lovely.  Thank you.  I have mixed feelings towards the Queen, and obviously I am keeping that to myself as this is neither the time nor the place.  But your tribute helped me look at her in a new light and with new respect.  You are a historian AND a writer.

Also:  The Queen Elizabeth t-shirt I got to wear yesterday was a huge hit with my students and opened up a ton of conversation, with even my 15 year old male students asking lots of questions and showing a lot of interest in the monarchy!  It was a neat day in that regard.  I think the Queen received a nice little send-off from down here in the American South.  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2022, 04:30:00 PM »

Thank you for writing that, Carreen, that was eloquent.  And agreed, Hester, this thread was a good idea.
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2022, 02:29:41 PM »

Goodbye to a backdrop and fixture for my whole life. Many of my social media handles have been "Elizabethan" all along.
I knew the Queen's death would be traumatic for all, and I was preparing as best I could - while selfishly hoping she would live to her mother's age.

What I wasn't prepared for was to have the same shock at cellular level - and a surreal feeling - just the same as when you lose an actual friend or relative. The grief is unexpectedly deep and systemic.
Life goes on exactly as normal, except that of course remembering "The Queen is dead" crops up in my thoughts every hour or so.

I was in a shop today and the security guard and a customer were wondering aloud in conversation as to why it was so quiet. I piped up: "Elizabeth".
"Of course," they both said.
I've had to drive extra carefully, knowing I'm distracted. I've kept an eye particularly on older drivers on the road, in case they are distracted too.

Unbelievably, the "woke, left" national broadcaster has broadcast saturation coverage of the death and succession since our Friday morning. I'm actually tiring of it now. I don't want to watch any more television coverage - but I'm keeping an eye on the hearse making its way from Balmoral.
 
In all the years of reading and hearing about Balmoral, I had never actually looked it up on a map. I look it up. It's so remote.
I'm hoping they have a dash cam filming the Scottish people roadside, in an echo of the film of the Robert F Kennedy funeral train .

One of the greatest women in history has gone, a member of the Greatest Generation.
You'd call her a bunch of contradictions if she hadn't synthesised them all so incredibly well.
Horsewoman, countrywoman
Fashion icon (yes!)
An embracer of change, who changed herself along the way (note the change to her voice and accent over the decades!)
Strategic and insightful - but you wouldn't call her shrewd or sophisticated
Constant - but you'd never call her dull
Kind - but you'd never call her sentimental
Firm - but you'd never call her stern

Above politics, above pettiness - if she were to have a "the" I'd nominate Elizabeth the Transcendent.
Or Elizabeth the Strong.

My democratic instincts would like to believe that she was an ordinary human being thrust into her role. But I suspected more and more along the way that some - not all - royals are the distillation of an incredible essence. And that Elizabeth was a prime example of that.
I am happy to acknowledge that I was not her equal. She will have had rare equals through history, but they will have been few.


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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2022, 02:33:34 PM »

I'm a historian (art historian) so my mind always goes back to the past. I think about the role of Queens in British history, and how good it has been for Great Britain to have a reigning queen. Elizabeth I - Victoria - now Elizabeth II. Even Mary and Anne, the Stuart queens, have lately received more positive attention. But there is no doubt that the two Elizabeths and Victoria have been extraordinary queens, embodying their eras, not only for their own country. I wish that George will one day have an eldest Victoria... but no, nobody can know whether George will ever be crowned king, that's just a sentimental idea...

The Queen has always been an enigma. I have read every book written about her, and none of them has really revealed much about her. Queen Victoria is much easier to know - her outspokenness in letters and diaries make it much easier to see her as three dimensional, flawed and fascinating character. E II understood that she had to protect her private person in this age of press intrusion, and she has.

The more archaic the institution of monarchy seems, the more fascinating it becomes. None of the other European monarchies have this effect on public imagination - most people outside of this forum don't even know the Belgians or Norwegians have a king (and good kings, as far as I can see). The death of EII made first headlines all over the world. In a way, she became a queen of the whole world, the embodiment of monarchy stepping slowly into modern times without losing its aura. A difficult balance act, and I can't see Charles or William able of a similar success. Being a woman helped no doubt. As female authority figure, she broke the stereotypical equation of power and masculinity, and her colourful way of dressing, gentle voice and ladylike behaviour made her stand out whenever she was photographed with world leaders. She seemed to say: don't excpect power, wisdom and authority to wear a dark suit and speak with a loud, deep voice.

After the First World War, the German, Russian and Austrian monarchies were abolished, with all their problematic, precarious and deeply unfair splendour. The World has moved on from the idea of heritary authority. The British monarchy has survived although non-Brits probably flinch like me (a German) when a woman kissed Charles' hand yesterday in front of Buckingham Palace. I wouldn't kiss anyone's hand, neither King nor Pope, but still, I was moved watching Charles and Camilla stepping into their destiny and their palace.

The Queen was inspiring with her constant, careful modernizing of the institution of monarchy, backed by her husband. Charles and William have to take care not to make too many changes too quickly, otherwise the monarchy will lose its aura and people won't accept all this privilege given to them anymore. I'm sure the Queen has taught them her way of looking at things.

I'm sad that she has passed, just as I was sad for her husband. It's the end of a life well lived, a death in much better circumstances than many other people, with optimal care and in loving surroundings. Her faith must have given her strength to deal with death - she has planned her own funeral a long time ago and has been confronted with the consequences of her own death for decades. Who else has spelled it out to them so clearly what will happen once they close their eyes? No one else was London Bridge whose falling down was expected sooner or later.

The Queen had time to grow into this unbelievably iconic figure. Don't forget: had she died in the 70s or 80s, when she appeared just like a middle-aged, grumpy lady overshadowed by the more colourful and youthful younger generation of her family, and when the spot of the amiable matriarch with the spine of steel was held by her mother - then her memory would have looked completely different. The aftermath of Diana's death may have been the point of change for her. Once her hair was pure white, she entered the Olympus of the public figures. In a way, untouchable. She also seemed to open up, to smile more, to radiate harmony and acceptance. Dignified like Queen Mary, but with a sense of humour and a twinkle like the Queen Mother.

These are some of the things going through my mind. My personal belief is that we'll meet again, all of us, and that her parents, sister and husband waited for her on the other side, together with Grandpa England, Uncle David and Diana (who craved her love). The end of life is the end of conflict and struggle, and it's the big reconciliation and recognition.





Beautiful eulogy - thank you!
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2022, 08:30:03 PM »

I am going to copy into this space a story I wrote earlier this summer when I began a writing class on the personal essay. It does veer a bit away from the Queen in the middle but does circle back to her in the end.  It may be a bit on the long side but it's what came to mind for me immediately upon the Queen's death.

Miss Carter’s Gift


It started with an unexpected gift from Miss Carter.
She was what would in her day be described as a ``maiden lady,’’ a gaunt gray-haired spinster who served as the parish secretary. I remember her with tightly-permed curls, near ankle-length pleated skirts and a variety of pastel twinsets.
Miss Carter had come over from England during the war and somehow landed in Seattle. My aunt and pious uncle were so-called ``pillars’’ of the parish, so it was natural that the Jesuit pastor would think their home a block away from the rectory to be a suitable place for her to rent a spare upstairs bedroom.
For some reason she took a shine to me. Someone had sent her a copy of the special coronation edition of the U.K’s version of ``Town and Country’’ magazine and I was the ``dear little girl’’ – her words, not mine – she considered the worthy recipient once she was through with it.
I was beyond enchanted and in the days leading up to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, I poured over every page of the magazine, entranced by each bit of obscure information about what looked to be an event right out of a fairy tale. A lot has stayed with me to this day. I can still tell you that the coronet of a royal duke is topped with golden strawberry leaves, and that the length of the train of a countess’s coronation robe is a yard and a half, while a baroness must be satisfied with only a yard for hers.
The jeweled crowns, the gothic traceries to be found inside Westminster Abbey, the Queen’s soldiers in red and gold liveries all captured my imagination. I could hardly wait for Coronation Day, even though my family had absolutely no connection to the United Kingdom, and the grownups were singularly uninterested in what I then considered the most important event ever to occur.
The coronation, on a day in June 1953, predated the transatlantic cable through which live television could be sent, so for the North American market, the whole ritual was filmed from the local TV broadcast in the UK.  Then the film was put on a Royal Air Force jet equipped with a photo lab, and as the plane raced across the Atlantic, the film was developed. It was rushed to a television studio in eastern Canada, and suddenly the strains of the processional into Westminster Abbey began to emit from our 18” black-and-white television set. I had been sitting in front of the screen for hours, waiting for this magical moment to begin.
It was every bit as marvelous as Miss Carter’s magazine had led me to believe. The golden coach, the cathedral choirboys in medieval-looking uniforms, the dukes with their ermine-trimmed cloaks and the glimpses of the glittering tiaras on all the peeresses’ heads: everything delighted me far beyond what any storybook about princesses could
provide.
In September, I started fourth grade in a classroom on the second floor of the convent school that has educated four generations of women from my family. We were taught by sisters who had come from Montreal and who brought an aura of gentility to the rigorous education they were bent on providing us.
We sat in the classroom in our navy blue jumpers and white blouses in the order of our height and as usual, I was the tallest girl in the class. This meant my seat was in the back corner, furthest from the classroom door. When we were called on to ``recite’’ – that is to answer any question Sister put to us – we were expected to rise from our seats and stand to the side of our desks. Because the fourth-grade desks were the same size as the third-grade desks, getting into and out of my desk was always cumbersome and I often barked my shins or noisily banged my fold-up seat with the effort of extricating myself.
One day in February our assignment was to write a poem. I remember sitting at the big oak desk by the front stairway at home, so excited that my toes were curling under. I knew just what I wanted to write. It would be the coronation story. I didn’t have to think very hard, but just put my pencil to the lined tablet paper and out came a two-stanza poem of 24 lines, all with rhyming couplets.
The next day in class, Sister started with the shortest girl and went down the rows in order, with each student standing by her desk to read her poem. Before we got halfway down the first row, I knew I was in trouble. Big trouble.
I never fit in very well with my class. Most of the girls were Irish or Italian, with a few Germans and Croatians thrown in for good measure. Both of every other girls’ parents were Catholic and I never heard a whiff of a rumor that anything was out of order in their homes. I remember looking at one of them, a little Irish girl named Susan with black shiny hair, blue eyes and a whole pepper shaker’s worth of freckles, and wishing I could be like her.
Instead, I came from what was known disparagingly as a ``mixed marriage.’’ My Norwegian immigrant father was a Protestant, a Lutheran from an obscure pietistic subsect. He was also an alcoholic, a wife beater and just one week earlier, my parents had separated after the bill for the Valentine’s Day roses he bought for his previously secret girlfriend was inexorably sent to our house. And if that wasn’t enough of a problem, I was a whole head taller than anyone else in the class, and my interests in raising frogs in the basement and drawing models of the bomber aircraft my dad designed at Boeing had done little to enhance my social acceptability.   
And as the poetry readings went on and on, I said to myself, ``oh dear, here I go again, the weird one.’’
Every little girl’s poem was similar: two lines of rhymed trochaic tetrameter, with most of them about the Blessed Virgin, along the lines of ``Lovely lady dressed in blue, teach me how to pray to you.’’  There was one poem in which there had been an attempt to rhyme ``Halloween’’ with ``string bean’’ but otherwise it was a regular festival of artistic conformity.
Finally, it was my turn. I had such a mixture of excitement and fear, tinged with – I’ll be honest here – triumphalism because I knew how good my poem was.  But I also had more than an inkling that things might not go well.
I stood up and read my poem and Sister’s initial response was silence. And 53 little heads – that’s how big classes were in the early 1950s – turned in my direction, with looks of disbelief on each face.
Sister tried to be gentle but it was clear she didn’t believe I wrote my poem. And, as the appointed moral educator, she felt obliged to point out that one of the commandments was ``thou shalt not steal’’ and that plagiarism – a new word for all of us – fell under that commandment. When I persisted in my denials, I was sent to Sister Superior’s office with a note.  In retrospect, my academic performance had been uneven. For example, my struggles with simple arithmetic persist to this day. So maybe it did seem very strange that as a fourth grader, I suddenly popped up with poem that was this lengthy and elaborate.
Sister Superior, who had known my mom and my grandmother, was clearly dismayed. I got another lecture on thievery and was sent home for the rest of the day with the admonition that ``good Catholic girls’’ accept responsibility for their actions and that I would definitely have to go to confession before I should be allowed to receive Holy Communion again.
The note came home with me and my mom shrugged it off. She knew I had written the poem because she’d seen – but neither understood nor endorsed – my enthusiasm for the coronation. And just now it’s occurred to me that perhaps her lack of interest had to do with the fact that this was a Protestant queen who was also the head of the rebellious Church of England. Mom’s absolute dedication to Catholicism sometimes went down strange roads.
Besides, more traumatic things were happening at home. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Mom had just discovered she was pregnant again, and Dad had now moved to a rented room in an old Victorian on the outer reaches of the parish. Those were changes that made our family even more of an outlier in the tidy life of our church community.
I was scared to go back to school, but nothing was ever said in class again about the incident. Perhaps Sister thought sending me home with a stern warning was sufficient. Besides, we went on to other assignments, including having to memorize several sing-song stanzas of Longfellow’s saccharine ``The Children’s Hour.’’ No more poem-writing that year, however.
In any case, I learned my lesson. Writing was dangerous. It was one more thing that made me different and weird. People wouldn’t believe me. They would think I was a thief. They couldn’t understand that it was so easy and so natural for me that all I had to do was hold a pen or pencil in my hand, and my thoughts and ideas and understandings of the world would flow right out and onto the page.
So, I ran from writing. Never would have anything to do with so-called creative writing. Wouldn’t sign up for the literary magazine, the school paper, or even the yearbook. Actually flunked freshman composition in college because the act of writing a lengthy personal essay might well be too self-revelatory. I did go graduate school but the idea was for me to get a PhD in English and be a college teacher. No writing courses for me! Instead, I submerged myself in the close textual analysis of the late Victorian poets.
I didn’t finish the PhD because pregnancy, and then child-rearing intervened. I found myself driving four blond kids and an Old English Sheepdog around in a station wagon with fake wood on the sides, and staying up late at night to sew my daughters’ ballet-recital tutus. I paid for the kids’ preschool and ballet lessons, art classes, music lessons and lots and lots of books through a variety of part-time jobs, none of which was related to what I’d studied in graduate school or to writing in any way.
I demonstrated sausages in supermarkets, called college students to tell them whether their student loans went through, taught would-be travel agents the abbreviations for each airport in the world, counted sterling silver flatware for a department store’s annual inventory, and one Christmas I’d rather forget, worked in a toy store that required every doll sold be placed in its original box – often lost forever in the stockroom – before that doll could go out the door.  I also dropped a seven-layer torte on the floor my first day on the job at a gourmet bakery/deli.
Somewhere along the way I discovered I had what people in the wine industry call a ``nose’’ and a sensitive palate. I could easily distinguish wines to such a degree that I could even tell whether the wine had been aged in a barrel made from Nevers, Tronçais, or Limousin oak. I got a job in a wine shop where I taught would-be sommeliers the basics of wine identification.
One day the owner decided to put on an auction of rare wines and, to promote the event, sent me out to the various TV stations and other news outlets, carrying a rare bottle of a first-growth Bordeaux from the late 19th century. After several interviews I became more facile, so by the time I got to the local suburban daily, I was downright glib. I remember sitting there cradling the jeroboam – that’s a very large bottle – of Ch. Margaux in my arms, rattling off a list of all the nuances the lucky purchaser would find in this wine.
The editor cocked her head at me and said, ``I’m not really all that interested in this particular wine. But we’ve been looking for somebody to cover the Washington State wine industry. Would you be interested in writing a wine column for us every week?’’
I suppose you could say one thing lead to another. First it was the wine column and then it was food writing, and restaurant reviews. When Seattle finally got a professional ballet company, I volunteered to write dance criticism, and then, after my first trip to Japan, I suddenly became the newspaper’s expert on Asian culture.
Eventually there were full-time jobs at various publications, some in Louisiana, some in California, and even the big-time media outlets in New York. As the years passed, my focus narrowed until I spent the last several decades writing about intellectual property law for national legal publications and, finally, for a financial news service. 
But no creative writing. No personal essays. No half-baked novel in a box under my bed. Nary a poem. Seems to me there was a sci-fi TV show back in the 1960s in which a computerized robot would intone ``Danger, Will Robinson, danger!’’ That’s how I felt, with some sort of internal alarm going off every time I approached anything but journalistic writing.
Now, I am old. By definition, anyone who can remember watching the coronation of the queen, who is having her platinum jubilee this year, is old. Miss Carter, my mom and dad, and all the sisters who taught me are long gone. So, these days, are an ever-increasing number of my classmates.
At this point I don’t have that much to lose. And it seems like I’m in possession of lots of stories that want to be told. In any case, after 78 years of unrepentant eccentricity, I know I’ll never fit in anyway. So, thanks to Miss Carter – and, secondarily to Queen Elizabeth, I guess, as well as those sisters in the black habits who embedded the rules of grammar and the sounds of a well-crafted sentence deep within my brain -- here goes nothing . . .  and everything.
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2022, 11:20:00 PM »

Bumbershjot, your personal essay is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve read here on RD. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. You are a terrific writer.
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2022, 11:33:58 PM »

Bumbershjot, your personal essay is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve read here on RD. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. You are a terrific writer.
Seconded! Star
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2022, 12:43:10 AM »

Bumbershoot, that was a delight to read.  Thank you for sharing it with us; I'm sure you felt quite vulnerable and I hope when you hit the "post" button you felt the same sense of triumphalism you did when you realized how good that original poem was!  Please continue to write...and share!   Hug
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2022, 12:59:34 AM »

Thank you for sharing, Bumbershoot!  Cool memories  Cool.  You are an excellent writer and it’s nice that you finally branched out to tell your story.  Writing can be cathartic and I hope doing this helped you and you will keep going - sounds like you e got some pretty amazing stories from life experiences you can “pen and ink”.  Think you’ve got a audience here. 
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2022, 09:35:23 PM »

Beautiful...
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2022, 02:33:26 AM »

Thanks everyone for your kind words. Writing does come easily to me, and my memories of the coronation are still so very vivid. Of course that makes me curious about what will happen when it's Charles' day.
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