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Royal Grief - and a True Loss

The death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has hit and moved me quite a bit. She looked so small and frail, yet with her big warm smile and solidity intact, when she greeted her final Prime Minister Liz Truss on September 6. Then when I heard that all her children were rushing to Balmoral in Scotland, I thought, “uh oh”….

Yet even when a death is foreseen, the shock of the reality can still knock you flat. The sorrow expressed by her people and millions around the world is real and profound. We all have lost a granny. She has just always been there for most of our lives.

I got up early to watch the wedding of Charles & Diana, and of Harry & Meghan. I got up early to watch Diana’s funeral and I will again to watch Her Majesty’s. It is historic and we will not see such a thing again in our lifetimes. A beloved monarch for over 70 years – that just doesn’t happen….

Now, there are some who have no use for monarchy. I get that. But these folks were born into these roles and had no choice in the matter. Wealth and privilege have its limits and expectations, and being so famous can be a terrible burden. As I have commented before, their money, fame and jewels make it easy for us to judge. The public spotlight can be withering and crushing. But I always have to remind folks, people only know what they know.

None of us has walked where they walk, we cannot know how it would shape us differently. It can often come with huge mistakes and consequences. The eldest of the Queen’s children’s marriages all ended in divorce. Anne and Andrew never remarried. And well, Andrew had his own series of … poor judgements…. That is a different topic for another day.

What exactly did folks expect the Queen to do? Smash the monarchy? We saw when Harry left how very difficult people made that process. He was taking care of his family, his wife and children. He saw the price his mother paid and was not willing to allow that again. And yes, they start charities, ride polo ponies and are friends with the Hollywood set. But should they get jobs at Walmart? Live in a local neighborhood? It’s neither safe nor reasonable to expect that.

But it’s a great example of folks commenting and judging when they really have no idea of the journey folks have taken or what choices are available to them. And when there are clearly so many who loved and respected The Queen, I find the snide remarks and nasty cartoons that I have seen to be deeply lacking in empathy and compassion.

She did not create the government or the territories or the system that she inherited. She was never supposed to be queen at all. She navigated those waters with grace and grit – although as another leader once said, “I have all the power I could ever want…and no choices at all.”

But Queen Elizabeth was the first monarch to visit Ireland. She allowed divorces and remarriages within her family. First-born princesses are no longer passed over in favor of younger brothers for the crown. The Queen has voluntarily paid taxes on her private income for many years. She made changes over time while maintaining the ship of state for over seven decades. Could she have done more? Sure – we all could. But these are not small measures for someone born in 1926.

The monarchy will be different under King Charles, as it will be under King William someday. But Queen Elizabeth was a monarch like no other – smart and kind and funny and carrying on. She was, as Prime Minister Truss said, “the rock on which modern Britain was built.” Unshakable. Unwavering. A Queen to the very end. Long Live the Queen.

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