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The Subtle Power of Queen Elizabeth
Today I watched Queen Elizabeth celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. She had to proceed without 90 year old Prince Philip, who was in the hospital. True to form, she remained cheerful and determined.
Growing up in Yorkshire, I learned early that the queen was always there, like a distant version of my mother. She graced postage stamps and the back of coins, and smiled at me in the news, her reassuring political presence constantly overshadowing my life. She seemed almost like the matriarch of our family, even though we never met.
That she never reveals her human side enhances her power. Her distance suggests that something bigger than I keeps the world on its axis. To a child, that’s a given – everything is bigger than a child. To an adult, it’s at once comforting and insulting.
Certainly, her aloofness seems quaint and old-fashioned. The queen would never reveal her private suffering the way Princess Diana did. The monarchy needed an update, and Princess Diana’s honesty and genuineness satisfactorily hurled it into modern times. But so did her selfishness, and that of the other next-generation royals. There’s no longer any doubt that a queen or prince or duchess is any different from the rest of us. The queen, however, remains part comfort, part mystery.
So why doesn’t her dogged adherence to aloofness strike us as clingy and ridiculous? I believe that, perhaps secretly, we want her to remain as she is. We sense that her aloofness is driven by a truth that strikes a chord in us.
She is doing her best to live out her calling. A monarch does influence her culture, whether we like to admit it or not. Even though she doesn’t have much political sway and we Americans tend to view her as a curious ornament, she remains a leader by example. She lives what she believes: Her God-given job is to lead her people selflessly, not allowing personal drama to interfere. That can’t be easy. I think most modern women would find it intolerable.
Personally, I find the queen very inspiring. She has managed to do what few of us are willing to. She’s maintained her reassuring composure through a world war. She’s visited and waved and walked and smiled and ridden in carriages and worn a heavy crown and worked with 11 prime ministers, without missing a beat. Even through the humiliation and stress of her children’s dramas, she “kept calm and carried on.” The woman never quits!
I guess if she can do her job, I can do mine. I can raise my children faithfully, not allowing drama to sabotage our family, and showing them that dependence on and trust in God is enough to get the job done.
I wish I could thank her, but she might send me to the Tower. I renounced my British citizenship years ago, threatened by a cult leader. Silly me – why did I have to join that dumb cult, anyway? (More drama, anyone?)