Day 2433 – Day 2436
I will be up in the wee hours of the morning to “attend” the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen is the monarch of my adopted country and the head of state of the country of my birth. But the royal family are – as Russel Brand called them – totems as well. The highs and lows of their lives have marked my own humble passages.
When I was young, I thought my mother was on the money. She was beautiful, dark haired, and regal like the Queen. The Queen was my Power-animal Mum and she wasn’t a totemic-grandma to me until later in life, when my own mother and grandmothers passed away. Being the youngest in an enormous Catholic family means that many of your relatives die when you are a child. But the Queen’s enduring presence is, in a way, a comfort to me, because I get to see what my mother might have looked like, and what she would have endured, had she lived.
When Diana and Charles married, my mother and I rose at some silly hour and watched their wedding from my mother’s home in Florida. Both of us were romantics but life proved to be disappointing to us both in that regard. Sadly, it proved to be disappointing for Diana, as well.
The death of Diana marked a period in my life where I was grappling with separating from family, too. Individuation and emancipation didn’t come with balloons, banners and a raise but with a healthy dose of punishment, too.
When I moved to London, it was on the Queen’s land at the Windsor Castle estate that I was initiated into a weekend intensive to launch my post graduate coursework. Coming home on a dreary day from classes, I rounded the corner to enter my student housing in London to find myself 50 feet from Her Majesty the Queen who was visiting a primary school on my street, as if reminding me of the importance of education and tradition.
When William married Kate, I “attended” their royal wedding in Hyde park where visitors were treated to big screen televisions, an official wedding programme/order of service and a live band in the park who played the hymns. We all stood and sang together and prayed together and cheered together. I attended the wedding with the man I came closest to marrying, but by then we both knew that we would never be married and were learning to live with the disappointment of the decision that was never really a decision but became the inevitable.
And in a few hours, I will awaken and “attend” the funeral of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and rehearse the emotions and the protocols that I know will soon befall me, as I bid farewell, inevitably, to my own 90-year-old father.
As I ponder and work on my own altruism this month, I am in wonder at the devoted life of Service that Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh have each given to the Commonwealth and to me, as my totem. Goodnight, Sir.
I am grateful to the royal family for being a symbol throughout my life for they have given me stability in a family that lacked it and an ideal on earth to which I could affirm my allegiance, when my own life lacked personal mentors and role models. They have been an emblem of home, no matter where I have roamed and I’m grateful for their constancy. People living in a republic will never know the blessings of having lived under the reign of the longest reigning monarch. Whatever may happen to the institution of the monarchy when Her Majesty the Queen passes away, she and her family have been a part of the great task of meaning-making in my life.
Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us.
God Save the Queen!