Today is 4 June, 2012. It is 2 days after the actual day of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. On the day itself she went to the derby in Epsom, and yesterday she had a big boat party on the Thames. How is she celebrating today? She's only having a concert in front of her house with a special song for her by Gary Barlow and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber!
Yesterday, as a semi-loyal Londoner, I turned out for her pirate party. I say pirate party because all the boys on her ship had swords. They didn't have pirate hats or eye patches, but I extrapolated the rest as irreverent foreigners are wont to do. Which leads me to the real subject of this post- what is the royal family? I'm not sure how different my perspective is from the rest of the ICLC staff, but I'm the only one who isn't really her subject. Yes, I live in London, which is in England, which is one of the four countries that make up her United Kingdom, but I'm American and I'm German. Sarah was born in Wales, so may not actively swear allegiance to the queen, but was born as her subject. Bill is a Canadian, and as a member of the Commonwealth he was born her subject. Technically he was born as the subject of her father, but this post isn't about Bill's age. Heather chose the queen. She was born an American and became a Brit, pledging allegiance to the American flag at the same time as singing God Save the Queen. Some people might say that the queen and I have common ground in our German roots, but mine are more direct. No, my grandmother was not a German princess (that I know of), but Germany is actually the country she was born and raised in. Princess Mary of Teck was born and raised in the UK, according to Wikipedia.
So there I was waiting in my friend's flat yesterday for the last possible moment to head out into the rain and join the crowds watching the boats on the river. As I headed out under her union flag umbrella with my paper mask of the queen, I wondered what I was doing. I really felt my irreverence for the whole thing as the six of us posed for pictures wearing masks of the queen, Philip, Charles, William, Harry and Kate. We all had a good laugh and then joked about climbing on each others' shoulders to try and see through the crowd that was at least ten rows deep with people. Then a man approached us. He said he couldn't help notice our masks and wondered if we would mind posing for him to take our picture. As we were removing our masks after his photo a woman appeared and asked the same thing. And as she was finishing her photo shoot with us a group of Japanese tourists jumped in and took their own photos with us.
I still haven't really attacked my original question- what is the royal family? It seems that her actual subjects enjoy the irreverence of foreigners, and perhaps foreigners even learned it from locals. For me the queen is pretty incredible for being an 86 year old woman who is known for being amazingly knowledgeable and for standing for hours yesterday as she waved to the crowds and other boats in some rather British weather. For me Prince William is the one who is only a couple weeks older than I am, and Prince Harry is the one with dubious political tendencies (not that I think he has the right to vote, does he? Or is it just the queen who can't vote? I don't know if Wikipedia can answer that for me). They seem to be people who are good to have a street party around and who sometimes get military jobs. Many people argue that they aren't worth the tax payer expense, but looking at all the paper masks around yesterday, I'd say that they're good for this recession economy in other ways.
PS- The atmosphere around here is nothing like last spring when Bill briefly caught wedding fever!