As with many respectful Americans, I am saddened by the loss of this wonderful woman. For me, it is a bit of concern too about what will happen in the future. When a monumental change occurs like this, it affects us all on levels we can’t quite understand. Queen Elizabeth kept up traditions in her country and stood by strong values and duty to her country. I am not sure we understand what this really means here in the U.S. I can’t imagine a president seeing themselves as having a duty to uphold, in quite the same manner in which she did. Perhaps they see that they have a role but sometimes I am not so sure they have our countries best interests at heart. Of course this is a matter of an opinion, just as the same would go for a British subject or for those in the extended empire.
As a woman who is very passionate about women’s history, I see her as living history. Most of the women that I am aware of, are women I have read about – who were deceased when I read their biography. This is the first time I have lived through almost all of her reign (I was born 10 years into it) and so I can learn about it on the television or in the newspaper. I went to England and Wales in 2000 and got to visit two of the castles. One where the Prince of Wales makes his photo op – a gutted out remnant of what once was probably a beautiful castle. Most people don’t realize this though. Second, I believe it was Windsor Castle that I visited. There was a lovely miniature version of the castle, in a glass case, in which we could walk around (yes, it was that large) and see the entire property from a doll’s eyes. Somehow, I was allowed to go to the front of the line. They saw the confusion on my face when I saw the line, I suppose. I also got to tour Westminster Abbey and walk around tombs of past royals (I think I got the chapel correct – forgive me if I don’t 22 years ago). Going to all these places, I was so awestruck by what I saw. At the same time, the Queen Mum was celebrating a birthday and so trying to navigate all the traffic and all the beautiful buildings and the fact that I was in England, it was quite mind numbing!
It is quite fitting that I was in a meeting for the Daughters of the American Revolution, when I learned that this great lady had passed. I am a brand new member here and learning about all the opportunities that are available, is also quite a lot to take in. Yet, I began to think of the contrast that I was here when I learned of her passing and I was volunteering at a domestic violence shelter in Hayward, CA when I learned of Princess Diana’s death. I think I don’t need to spell this out, the relevance of the two places and the symbolic meaning for both women. Princess Diana created a shift in the royal household. She brought England more to the fore for many of us who are not British subjects. Some of us young women were caught up in the romance and the drama, which caused us to pay attention to Britain in other ways besides just PBS/Masterpiece Theater. At that time, we were glued to soap operas and this was a live version of the “Can you believe what happened today?”
Speaking of which, I personally believe (though I know many British people agree) that the Queen would have done us all a favor if she had bypassed her son for her grandson in the royal succession. Of course, I read many articles over the years showing that this was not going to happen as it would not be keeping in line with her integrity. Though, neither would have allowing her son to get a divorce. I think this was her biggest mistake, which I am sure she knew and took with her to the grave. Mother’s and their narcissistic-type sons, stick together like her favorite jam sandwiches. While King Charles III has so far been appropriate in dealing with the mourning period and funeral, he does not have the strength, the values, or the empathy garnered by his subjects. If the now Prince of Wales and his wife were made Queen and King, I think people would be less concerned about what lies ahead. Prince William is so much like his grandmother. Not to mention, he is young with so much life ahead of him. However, I am not the one in charge, so we will just have to hold are breaths and see what the new King fancies.
In the meantime, Queen Elizabeth II (70 years) follows a long line of great women in royal history. She is the longest serving female monarch, Louis XIV beat her, as a monarch, by 2 years. Thailand and Lichtenstein are soon to achieve a longer reign, already hitting 70 years. Other great females that come to my mind are Queen Victoria (63 years and 7 months), her great great grandmother and the first Queen Elizabeth (45 years). From Russia we have Catherine the Great (34 years). All women who served for a great number of years and made major changes in their countries.
There will never be such an incredible person, in my lifetime, that will accomplish as much or who will have been around this long. It is remarkable to think about all the decades she lived through. At 96 years old, she had the privilege of meeting some great and not so great leaders in our time period. She went through many changes in fashion, values, historical events and yet she was a constant in our lives. Constants are what helps us to feel safe and secure. Now we must forge ahead, on our own, living up to our own personal integrity. When I think about my spiritual teacher, Lucie, who died 10 years ago prior to Queen Elizabeth (around the same day), I reflect on how my life has changed since then. At first, I wondered what I would do, without our weekly phone chats and minus her advice and wisdom. Interestingly, my life moved forward very successfully and soon I would realize what she had taught me in her final years. She had told me that I was ready to be my own teacher. And now, we are ready to be our own teachers, in our own unique ways. Thinking of what this great matriarch stood for and how can we, as women, embody such great standards. We may not become legends but how can we make change or be the change and leave legacies behind that our ancestors would be proud of and our descendants will admire.