I was late to work on Monday because I was attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. I am glad I made time to pay my respects. And yes, I wore black to work.
The rest of my family moved through the day with no acknowledgement of the funeral, as they had through much of the week since the Queen’s death. Heathens.
While they understood the significance of the Queen’s passing, my children see no relevance to their own lives in the service of hers, and my husband, the Carpenter, was disappointed soccer was cancelled. He’s an Arsenal fan (I know, I really know how to pick’em). So, there you have it.
I was as alone in my grief as I was in my desire to rewatch the entire seasons of The Crown again. In his twisted humour, the Carpenter would walk into the room and offer to spoil the ending. Isn’t he clever?
To which I would reply that, while I understood the Netflix television series was historical fiction, the Queen is shown having moments of frustration, realizing that she had married an arrogant nit. Huh.
It worked out for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who like the Carpenter and I, do almost nothing together and share no interests, and yet we are a solid team. So, I will take that as an indicator of a long and happy marriage. No wonder she enjoyed gin (you can laugh at that, because I believe the Queen would. She had a fabulous sense of humour).
As a Canadian history graduate, I assure you, my knowledge of the monarchy goes beyond fictional TV. In my search for the Canadian identity, her presence is ever present, in complicated but important ways.
My feelings on the matter were summarized best in the tribute to the Queen by former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, at the ceremony held in Ottawa on Sept. 19. I highly recommend you seek it out. She brought tears to my patriotic eyes.
Watching the spectacle of the Queen’s funeral unfold, I found myself missing my grandparents – the Waterhouse side, for whom Canada became home, but the Union Jack was always their flag.
I remember Christmas mornings, listening to the Queen’s Christmas message, usually on radio, sometimes TV. It was tradition. It was important. For my grandparents, it was as if the Queen was talking to them. She felt like a distant relative checking in. I didn’t know why it mattered; I just knew it did.
Later, I would come to learn my grandfather had served her grandfather and father, his Kings, in two World Wars. I will never know the depth of his allegiance to the Monarchy. But I was aware, even as a child, of his pride.
For me, the Queen was the embodiment of grace under pressure. A daughter. A sister. A wife. A mother. A grandmother. A lover of horses and dogs, the two best things on Earth. Kind.
Queen Elizabeth II was the epitome of what it means to lead a life of service. We may never comprehend the extent of her sacrifices or the weight of her decisions. We couldn’t if we tried.
And we wouldn’t dare try.
We couldn’t handle it.
Of that I am sure.