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By Trish Patrick in All Sorts
thoughts on celebration of the Queen's jubileeQUEENHOOD
A priceless freight for a young woman to bear,
but, draped and adorned, a monarch walks forward
into the sideways weather of the oncoming years.....
Writes Simon Armitage, the British Poet Laureate, in celebration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.
The poem speaks into the daunting burden Queenship imposes on the 25year old as she is clothed with the elements of Queenship...the gown, the orb and sceptre, the robe, and for her, the most sacred of all...the anointing. The sacredness of the anointing was paramount. Yes.. the history and tradition were important, but her commitment to her God surpassed the trappings of Queenship.
That has not changed.
My sister was enchanted with the whole idea of the Coronation. The months leading up to the great event saw us enacting our version of this event whenever we got the chance. Mum's wedding dress was resurrected and adjustments with safety pins made to effect some sort of fit. The old red velvet hall curtain made an excellent robe lavishly adorned with strips of cottonwool attached with glue. The crown was constructed of cardboard and garishly painted, the sceptre was grandma's walking stick wrapped in xmas paper, the orb..a tennis ball. Any chair sufficed as a throne.
All things royal fascinated my sister.
Above her bed hung two pictures, one was Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret as children, clothed in frilly dresses, the other was Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
Above my bed hung a picture of two rabbits frolicking in a woodland!
Regretfully, I never did attain the dizzy heights of Queenhood ...I was relegated to 'lady in waiting' gloriously arrayed in one of Mum's nighties...lavish use of safety pins to the rescue. Not quite the look I was after, but ...whatever! My devotion apparently didn't rise to an acceptably queenly level.
No matter what one may think of Monarchy/Empire, in general, it would be difficult to argue that the Queen has not lived up to the vows she took in 1953. She has not always 'got it right' but generally speaking she has fulfilled her vows to serve the Britain and the Commonwealth. Living constantly in the public eye, being scrutinised mercilessly is a huge price to pay for a life of privilege and great wealth. Celebrities choose to live in the public eye and can opt out if they so choose. This option was not available to the Queen. A woman of lesser moral fibre might have followed in her hapless Uncle's footsteps, but duty and responsibility weighed heavily on this young woman's shoulders.
Abdication of responsibility and duty would have been unthinkable.
I am not a royalist but looking around the world at all the different styles of government, their strengths, their short comings, and stability, I would have to conclude that, in spite of the British form of Monarchy falling short in many many ways, not the least its appalling history of championing slavery and shocking exploits inherent in empire building, it's the best of a doubtful bunch....so far! Due in no small part to the reigning monarch...a woman of integrity, faith and dignity.
The following generations have very big shoes to fill.
Simon Armitage captures the complexities of the role magnificently. I recommend you read the poem in its entirety.
....'Queenhood: it is law and lore,
the dream life and the documentary, a truthful fantasy.
For generations, we will not know such majesty.'
Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate.
I would be dismayed beyond belief if some of the current models of Republicanism were to be adopted in our country. None inspire any confidence for me...at all!!
With our own elections looming ...what values and ethics will we as a nation be looking for in our future leaders and Head of State. Let’s hope the 'cult of personality' does not hold sway in Aotearoa NZ. However, who knows what the next decade will bring.