Sunday, May 12, 2013

God save the Queen

In what seemed like a week that would never end, I found myself desperately looking for a much-needed distraction from the Jodi Ariases and Ariel Castros of the world.

Thank God for Queen Elizabeth.

Not that I'm a monarchist, mind you. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool voting democratic (small "D") capitalist who celebrates the Fourth of July with gusto, along with a Weber-grilled steak, my mother's home-made potato salad recipe and a nice little microbrew from Wisconsin.

But, geez, what a week.

Until the Queen opened the latest session of Parliament, wearing the Imperial State Crown (ISC). She was just what I needed.

Queen Elizabeth II opens Parliament while wearing the Imperial State Crown.
It was all so ... so ... so British.

I took a quick look at Wikipedia and found out that the crown she was wearing is one of several of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

This particular crown that crowns her crown has 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and five rubies. The rocks surround a purple velvet cap that is lined in ermine. In other words, it's just what you'd expect a crown to be.

She must be wearing about a bazillion dollars in jewels. Imagine Fort Knox on your noggin. She does look a little nervous in the picture above.

The thing that struck me, though, was that the ISC must be a little uncomfortable to wear. I mean, holy smokes, it weighs two pounds. That's a pretty hefty load to keep on the top of your head, especially if you're an 87-year-old woman who is already shouldering the weight of her country (well, figuratively, anyway), not to mention a sometimes unruly family that includes the likes of Prince Charles and that Camilla woman.

While I was watching the newscast of this Parliamentary mini-event, it occurred to me that Elizabeth looks a whole lot like a chess piece while she's wearing the crown. I dug up my ancient chess set and sure enough, I found the White Queen.

Do you see any resemblance to the Queen?
There may not be as much of a resemblance as I might have hoped, but by the same token, there is a simple elegance about it. I have to say, it's been years since I've played chess — probably as long ago as high school, when I was in the chess club and relentlessly got scotched by the Big Bang Theory brainiacs.

There was this one kid who kept tapping his foot while he played the game. I guess he was in a rhythm, like an athlete. I could never beat him, and I felt vindicated when I somehow made our matches last longer than five minutes. The moral of that story is that I learned there is some satisfaction in moral victories after all.

Here's the thing: back when I was playing chess in junior and senior high school, 40 to 50 years ago, Elizabeth was the Queen then, too. So I guess I'm saying the ol' gal has been around for quite a while now.

As it turned out, when I went on my cross-country odyssey after graduating from college in 1973, we ran into Queen Elizabeth at Monticello while she was on a state visit. She was not wearing the crown jewels at the time.

It's kind of neat how the Queen keeps showing up when I — we — need her the most.

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