In a closing wrap-up by the sententious Russell Baker, we were informed that in England today, George V is seen as a man who "shirked his duty as king." Well, I know that there are stick-up-the-butt traditionalists everywhere, of the sort who believe that there is a place for everyone and everyone should be in his place, but I seriously doubt that the lingering dislike of this vacuous man is the result of his failure to play his proper role in an anachronistic institution. It is more likely due to the understanding that he was a spoiled rich boy who wanted it both ways, and spent the rest of his life sulking when he didn't get everything he wanted. Beyond that, I don't think his having existed impinges on the modern British consciousness in any significant way. Arch-conservatives may bemoan his effect on history, but most people simply don't give a rodent's rectum.
Now, BBC America is broadcasting live coverage of the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. I watched a bit of it, as I always enjoy seeing the splendid architecture of London. There were some nice shots from cameras on rooftops, showing the (still mostly low) skyline, roofed today by heavens crowded with marvelous rain clouds. It is an impressive sight. The fanfares played by the bands as the Queen's ornate gilded carriage drove through the dignified grey streets of The City were quite impressive, as well. But one bit of music they played struck me as singularly inappropriate. If I recall correctly, Londonderry Air was written in memory of a young Irish freedom fighter killed by the English oppressors. It was odd to hear it being played for the oppressor's descendant.
Of course, the royals were all there; Charles, fussing nervously with his hair; Andrew, who appeared to be wearing a hairpiece, (or comb over?): Edward, admitting his baldness; and, of course, boy-band pretty Wills (I'll be terribly disappointed if, one day, he doesn't give up the crown for "the man I love,") and his odd little
Now, I will admit that it is odd that I, an American, with better things to do with my time than follow the fortunes of this group of historic celebrities-by-default, should know who they all are. I suppose it is the modern media's endless appetite for fame that has made it all but inevitable that I should do so. To be unaware of them, I would practically have to give up news itself, which has in recent years become inextricably bound up with gossip. And, of course, I would have to be ignorant of history, which has led to this peculiar moment for which I have been waiting; the moment when the Queen arrives at St. Paul's Cathedral and exits the gilded carriage. And why have I been waiting for this moment?
Too see if It is there, of course. And, as she steps down onto the pavement, my patience is rewarded; There it is! The Purse! Shiny black patent leather, it looks to be today. She always has one, of course. Should the monarchy survive a few more centuries, I'm sure that one of its symbols will be a purse. It will join the crown and the scepter as a mark of the office. Even Kings will be expected to carry it on state occasions.
On this occasion, we must all be asking ourselves:
What Does the Queen Carry in Her Purse?