I don’t like to brag, but we’ve hit the Royal Flush since moving to London four-and-a-half years ago. Our presence here has lifted the British royal family to heights it has not attained since the era of the dastardly King George, and scandals that would make even Henry the 8th blush.
Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But our time here has coincided with a steady stream of titanic events involving the House of Windsor – a marriage, a birth, an estrangement, a death, a sex scandal. We’re experiencing yet another one this year with the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking her 70th year in the throne.
These have all been Very Big Deals here in the UK, marked with that special British combination of pride, passion, politesse – and pints, lots and lots of pints. Folks get excited, let me tell you.
For me, being but a wee colonist, they have largely passed with that special American expat combination of cluelessness and apathy. Not so much because I don’t care – okay, I mostly don’t – but also because I am a stranger here in the Old Country, an alien, an outcast, someone who is physiologically incapable of appreciating the majesty of Her Majesty.
I’m pretty sure this is some kind of law, writ in stone. There are Real Brits and there is Everyone Else, and if you don’t belong to the former group, you are Everyone Else.
I could die here in the year 2073, with more than half-a-century under my belt, spending my last days holed up in a dark pub wearing a tweed flat cap and playing bloody darts and sipping a bloody ale and eating bloody haddock from the bloody chippy next door and moaning about the bloody PM and the roadworks and the immigrants and the bloody tube – load of bollocks, iinnit? – and they’d still look at me as an outsider.
Not that I mind, mind you. There is a certain freedom to being an outsider. You don’t have to pretend to give a shit, and the Brits don’t give a shit whether you give a shit or not. That’s a perfect combination.
Well, there has been one time when I felt like I had a personal connection to the goings on with the Royal Family. That happened in May 2018 – just a few months into our stay here – when our American homey Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in a ceremony so immense and excessive that it threatened to knock the globe off its axis. We watched the event live on the telly, and I remember thinking, “Well, that’s cool. An American in the Royal family.”
Then a year later Meghan gave birth to little Archie Mountbatten-Windsor – a half-Yank in the Royal Family! Wheee!!!!!
Then a year later Harry and Meghan split for California, all but severed their ties to the Royal family, had an interview with Oprah that ruptured more than a few aortas, and there went that little fairy tale.
Since then, Prince Philip – Queen Elizabeth’s husband for 70-plus years – passed away, and their second-oldest son, Prince Andrew, settled a sexual abuse lawsuit concerning a 17-year-old girl who might have been similarly abused by the late criminal sleazeball/pervert Jeffrey Epstein, one of Randy Andy’s pals.
That’s a lot of Royal hoo-ha in the space of four years, no?
I have experienced all of this from the perspective of an expat, which means very little of it moved my blood pressure a half-digit in either direction. I simply don’t have any personal connection with the British Royal family, having not grown up in the Commonwealth. Consequently, it’s hard for me to get too amped up about them. I have more interest in King Kong Bundy and Queen Latifah than I ever had with the folks in the fancy crowns (okay, I was saddened by the tragic death of Princess Diana, and the boys she left behind).
I don’t know the words to “God Save the Queen,” the anthem. But I do know all the words to “God Save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols (“she ain’t no human being!”).
I have found that some of my American acquaintances do have an interest in the British Royal family, because they keep asking me about it, and I keep telling them that you know, it’s like, it’s cool, you know, like the Royals and stuff, and Prince Harry and the other one, and Kate I think is her name, and the Buckingham Palace, all that stuff.
Because I don’t want to be rude, even though I don’t really care.
There will be many big events tied to the Platinum Jubilee, but I couldn’t name a single one of them off the top of my head. I believe some will be taking place the week we fly out of and back into the UK on vacation, and my main interest is that traffic and transit are not sent into a royal clusterfuck because of it.
I will say this: 70 years is a long, long time to be a queen. It’s a pretty long time to be a human, let alone a human wearing the crown. Harry Truman was president of the United States when Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne. Joe DiMaggio had only recently retired from baseball. Nobody had heard of Elvis Presley or the Beatles – or George Clooney, though plenty knew about George’s Aunt Rosemary, who had one of the biggest music hits of the year.
Television was in its infancy when Queen Elizabeth took over. Facebook was more than a half-century in the future. Computers were gigantic things that could fill an entire wing of a warehouse and add 3 plus 11 in about 23 seconds.
Lord, what that woman has seen since then – the people she has met, the places she has visited, the political waters she has navigated, the global figures who have come and gone, the regimes that have come and gone, the nations, the fashions, the revolutions and hairstyles.
My amateur opinion is that she’s done a pretty decent job of it. I mean, let’s face it: Queen Elizabeth’s main job is to look, act, and speak Queenly, and not make an ass out of herself. Nail those two things, and the rest is gravy. She has succeeded on both counts. I’m sure she has a long and varied roster of other duties and responsibilities to fulfill, and I’m sure she’s done a cracking good job at fulfilling them. But the main thing is, she hasn’t been an embarrassment.
That’s not as easy as you think, folks – keeping your wits about yourself in the cold glare of the spotlight, under constant scrutiny, every single day, through one cultural shift after another. You’d think after seven decades she would have made a few major faux pas, but I really can’t name any. About all you can find online are some scattered and fairly benign comments that the British tabloids tried to make hay out of but didn’t add up to diddlysquat.
It takes amazing discipline to maintain your composure and dignity, day after day, for 70 GD years. I personally wouldn’t have made it 48 hours.
The woman has been a rock, an absolute rock. Maybe she’s not the warmest human being on the planet. You wouldn’t want to call her up drunk late at night and pour your heart out. I’m sure she’d probably say something like, “Oh dear. Dreadful business, that. But, let us not dwell on it. Onward and forward we march!”
But Queen Elizabeth is a badass when it comes to keeping a poker face for seven decades and counting. I’d hate to play Texas Hold ‘Em against her. She’d stack the chips on all of us.
This, I can appreciate. Give the Queen her props. As another queen, the Queen of Soul, sang many long years ago:
Note: I did not take the accompanying photo. Having not been born at the time.