Every now and again the question crops up if it is time for Gt. Britain to drop the Royal Family. The cost involved with Royal visits and all the fanfare and security they entail also the many so called “shirttail relatives” that are such a drain on the British economy.
Hailing from England, I guess I am biased in favour of the Royals. To me, when England is mentioned I immediately think of HRH Queen Elizabeth 2nd.
There is so much more to England than the royals, my huge joy on any visit is the charm of sleepy little villages with quaint names like Ashby-de-la-zouch and Little Rippling on the Wold. The names themselves are bigger than the villages and each little hamlet is built round the village church.
London has little appeal to me for it’s crowds, culture and diversity but the architecture is absolutely marvellous. The old town of London is only one square mile and in that small space is packed so many wonderful buildings that are hundreds of years old. You can spend an entire day exploring Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s cathedral and, in between are the Houses of Parliament, with Big Ben’s tower, numerous old churches, several palaces and miles of parkland.
It is hard to walk by one of these famous buildings and not happen across some sort of pageantry going on. Changing of the Guard is not just a public display, put on for the tourists, it is a genuine change of shift for various security men. The fact that they happen to wear the most elaborately colourful outfits and quite often are on horseback, is just part of the British tradition.
Tradition is what the Royal family is all about. I was eight when the coronation of Elizabeth 2nd took place. All schools and places of work, except necessary services were closed. Televisions were not owned by too many people but hoards of people gathered together to watch the event wherever possible.
The day of the coronation, grandma and I took the early morning bus to my mom’s home where sandwich making was being done on a huge scale. My mother owned a second hand, eleven inch tv, bought for the event and half of the street had gathered in the small living room to watch. TV coverage started hours before the event by showing the crowds of people on the sidewalks, they had spent all night sitting there to make sure they got a view of the Queen passing by for a few seconds.
In later years Dave and I returned to England for the Golden Jubilee, fifty years of the queen ruling England. We managed to get a marvellous place to watch the parade just a few yards from the entrance to St. Paul’s cathedral where a ceremony was to take place. The sidewalk at that point was very narrow so we were lucky not to have dozens of people jostling us from behind. Stationed every few feet in front of us where different branches of the military and police personel, who stood facing the crowd, looking for troublemakers. Luckily, that day there were only people who wanted to join in the festivities.
The parade arrived with hundreds of different guardsmen in their gorgeous black busbies, as the bear pelt hats are called. Many on horseback, and many more marching. Quite a spectacle with the Royal Navy and Marine bands playing. Then came members of the Royal family also wearing guard uniforms, Princess Anne and Prince Charles leading them. Right behind came the Gold Coach with HRH and Prince Philip waving. The gold coach is so opulent it is almost ugly, with cherubs on each of the four huge springs that hold the coach, two footmen stand both front and back.
Dozens more horses and guards followed the coach and then the plainer, black coaches with various other royals and dignitaries waving.
This to me is England, an old country with old traditions. Although I think there are far too many “shirttail” royals, I truly feel that the Queen has earned the respect of her citizens. During her reign she has had to deal with divorces, two spectacularly out of step daughters-in-law. Fergie with her free spirit that could not adapt to the tradition of a stiff upper lip and Diane who captured the hearts of the nation but couldn’t handle the fact that she hadn’t captured the heart of her husband.
I personally believe that HRH has handled all troubles and misfortunes with diplomacy and a forced smile. This is what she was trained to do from a very early age. Whatever falls in her path is handled with delicacy and elegance, she meets and greets heads of state that she probably disagrees with, but puts them at ease and makes them feel welcome. A person of her age should be enjoying a quiet retirement but she puts on that smile, gets her purse and fancy hat and faces whatever is put in front of her.
Whatever you think of the Royals, that is one lady who has earned my undying love and respect, long may she reign!