Let’s be clear, I am no royalist. I find the concept of a hereditary monarchy unjustifiable, care nothing about who is where in the “line of succession” and find the media attention paid to every public appearance and utterance of members of royal family as they struggle with the “anguish” and “burdens” of their unearned privilege to be silly at best and offensive at worst.
But I like the Queen. In fact, I like her a lot. And it’s not just because she looks like my mother, although that doesn’t hurt. It’s not simply because she’s “the Queen”. It’s because she has been, in the admittedly perverse context of the life and times in which she has found herself, a rare and remarkable example of commitment to service who has, through her words and actions, attempted to understand the real needs of the people she is meant to serve, intervene as best she could, and consistently given expression to the very best aspects of the national character. In all this she provides an example for us all as we engage our stations in life particularly, I hasten to point out, those of us in the health professions.
She has been forced to do so as the epicentre of continuing storms of controversy caused not by her, but by the shenanigans of the innumerable members of her extended family and in-laws. Her words, over the near 70 years of her reign, have provided solace and support in times of need. She has provided what, by all accounts, has been very sensible and citizen-focused counsel to no fewer than 14 British Prime Ministers, (beginning with Winston Churchill!). She has refused to submit to demands for “reforms” that would compromise the standards she has set for herself and for the position she holds. She has persevered. At the age of 95 and reputably quite wealthy, she certainly doesn’t need the work and, I imagine, could do without the aggravation. Who among us would not have retired to our estates and Corgis decades ago?
She has, in the vernacular of our day, been “one class act” in the evolving soap opera that has become the modern monarchy, the future of which now appears to hinge on her great-grandchildren– two toddlers and an infant whose duties to date have not yet extended beyond being adorable (a duty in which, I must admit, they have excelled).
And she’s smart! This past week we had a great example of regal grace and wit. Informed that she’d been elected, by a magazine and editorial team that should know better, to receive an “Oldie of the Year” Award, she crafted the following response:
“Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel and, as such the Queen does not believe she meets the relevant criteria to be able to accept and hopes you find a more worthy recipient.
With Her Majesty’s warmest best wishes.”
A measured, dignified slap-down for the ages. Take that, you ageist boors!
Among all the unearned privilege our modern world seems to be tolerating, it’s both refreshing and encouraging to find someone who not only appreciates their station but attempts to the best of their ability to rise to the responsibility that it provides, staying true to their values.
You go, girl!
Sorry. You go, Your Majesty.