A lot has happened in the last 24-48 hours in the world. A queen has passed on, and her son has ascended the throne as King Charles III. A lot of other things were supposed to be happening in my life. I was supposed to be taking a trip to Maryland and going to the 50th anniversary concert of Roxy Music. This makes the second concert I have forgone for which I had tickets in Maryland. The drive is really tough on me, and would have been made worse by the fact that I would have only been in town for two nights and a day. Traveling twice that distance in such a short span of time was going to be very hard, so I decided to stay home. I thought I would get some things done at home on a little “stay-cation,” but instead I found myself in my living room, in my pajamas, glued to the television. The bulletin from the Royal Family stating that doctors were concerned about the queen’s health and that she remained under medical supervision, the fact that the palace wasn’t telling the press to stand down, that there was no immediately need for concern, were all the more telling.
My gut told me that she was dying or had already died. She was blessed with a long life, with a love that lasted her entire adult life, and with the good fortune to die in Scotland at Balmoral Castle, which she loved so much. She saw herself having missed out on the opportunity to be a rather simple English countrywoman but having been enormously fortunate to lead her kingdom through seven decades of trials and twist, of ups and downs. One need only look at the faces of William, Andrew, and Edward as their Land Rover sped through the gates at Balmoral to see the grief and the immense love and respect they had for their mother and grandmother.
My son didn’t understand my own grief as I watched the news unfold. It’s a different world now, with many people (sometimes myself included) critical of monarchies and their excess. I believe that King Charles, and then his son William, will take the kingdom into a new age, an age in which those excesses will be curbed and the focus will be on making life better for citizens of the Commonwealth. One can hope.
I watched the news yesterday until I couldn’t do it any longer. I managed a few chores around the house — cleaning the kitchen, taking out the recycling container, bathing and cleaning the bathroom — and tried to watch a bit of the Thursday night football game. As in other times of mourning, I felt dissonance in trying to enjoy something while the world around me was “off.” I was reminded of the night Diana, Princess of Wales died. During that incident, I was at my sister’s house with my family, though I can’t remember why, when the news broke of the horrible accident. At that time, the Princess was still alive, but my sister was distraught. We remained by the television until long after the news of the Princess’s death. I think there is something about our generation that recognizes the importance of the lives of public figures and their significance in guiding the human race. We feel it when one of them dies. I can imagine there will be one I won’t grieve when his time comes, but above all, these public figures deserve our respect and admiration for all they do for their people and for humans as a species.
This morning, I slept in, because it took me a long time to fall asleep last night. By the time I had coffee in hand, the Today Show’s first two hours were over. I skimmed back through the recording to get up to speed on the happenings of the day. I confirmed the time when the King would speak so that I wouldn’t miss it, and I took care of a few things around the house. I made an appointment to go get a haircut this afternoon, showered, and put on a little bit of makeup.
At 1:00 EST, the King’s speech was aired on CNN. It lasted only about 9 minutes, but by the end of it, I was in tears. I never cared much for Charles, and certainly not for Camilla, but he is now King and she is Queen Consort, a role that basically means she will aide him in carrying out his many duties. It is sad that it isn’t Princess Diana who rose to that role, but it wasn’t meant to be. Although I still don’t care for Camilla, I do understand that she and Charles were denied the right to be married long ago, after he went to war and she married another. The Firm, as the royal family and its administration has been called, ruled against them, creating a long, public nightmare that almost ruined their reign. Had these two people simply been able to act on their love long ago, Diana might have gone on to live a different and happier life. But none of this matters now. They are together, Diana is gone, and life moves on.
The first tear that sprung to my eye was when Charles said he would be creating as Prince of Wales his son William. William is next in line for the crown. This is a title usually given to the heir apparent, but it is not automatically granted. Charles was created Prince of Wales at the age of 6 but was not invested until 1969 when he was 21. That he moved so quickly to grant his son the title speaks to his trust in William, his very realistic thought that becoming king at 73 could mean a very short rule, and that he knows he is a transitional king.
The tears really came when he spoke of his beloved mother and said, “May choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest.” He is clearly grieving and feeling deeply the loss of his mother. Any of us who have lost our mother can tell you that you cannot fake your way through it. As his own mother said upon the death of her beloved Prince Philip, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Indeed and amen.
No, I didn’t know her personally. I’m not a royals follower, nor am I a particularly devout Anglophile. I have admired and respected her reign, however, and I know how deeply she will be missed.
Good day, good weekend, and may you feel comfort and compassion as we go forward from here.