There I was, all set to write about the earth-shattering news I received this week from my dental hygienist about how I’ve been using the wrong kind of floss, when something actually significant happened.
The Queen died.
Knowing my affinity for all things British, my two sons texted me within minutes of each other to alert me of the news. My husband and I turned on the TV to see what the news outlets had to say about the passing of the world’s second longest-reigning monarch. (The Queen served for 70 years; France’s King Louis XIV served for 72 years.)
I didn’t know Queen Elizabeth personally, of course, but as I watched the news, tears came to my eyes.
It’s strange to hear about the death of a stranger, the passing of someone you’ve never met but feel a connection to. I remember grieving in 2006 when our family first heard Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter died. Our reptile-obsessed son grew up adoring him, and we had been watching his show as a family for years. He was a complete stranger, yet he felt like an old family friend, one who had generously invited us into his adventure-filled life in the Australian bush.
This is how I feel about the passing of the Queen. She never knew me, but she was a sweet Grandma I watched from afar.
She always carried herself with such grace and dignity, a rare, calming constant in a chaotic world. Regardless of what life threw at her, she pushed onward in her steady, unflappable way, faithful to her family, her country and her beloved Corgis.
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We don’t have a monarchy in the U.S., and I’m glad for it, but I will admit there have been times I felt envious of the Brits and their queen. It was as if they had a fairy godmother who imbued national events with an elevated sense of pageantry and majesty.
A few months ago, I watched a season of the series “The Crown,” and while I’m sure there were creative liberties taken with Queen Elizabeth’s story, my respect for her grew as I watched her face the challenges of learning to run a kingdom while simultaneously navigating the numerous scandals of her family members.
When we were still living in Indonesia, I happened to be in the capital city of Jakarta when the Queen’s grandson William married Kate. I watched the wedding in rapt wonder, along with several hundred other people, on a giant screen in a mall. There we were, people from widely varied backgrounds in a land far, far away from England, united in our shared awe of a royal wedding.
I loved watching how much fun she seemed to have when London hosted the Olympics in 2012, her people introducing her at the opening ceremony by having her (or someone who looked very much like her) leap out of a hovering helicopter alongside James Bond.
In all honesty, the closest I ever came to her was when I had the pleasure of visiting the Tower of London a few years back and seeing the glittering crown jewels she wore during her coronation ceremony in 1953. They were simply magnificent.
As was she. Rest in peace, dear Queen, from one of your American admirers.