As I watch the funeral of Elizabeth II this morning, I’m taken back in time to my two visits to England. I made my first voyage to the UK in June 2005. On that trip, we visited Windsor Castle. I remember what a slope it was on. I remember the gift shops with replicas of the Crown Jewels. I believe that mine are still in my jewelry armoire in the hallway. What I remember most specifically, though, aside from being bitter with Charles about Lady Diana, is part of the people in our party almost being run down by the Queen’s men, soldiers on their rounds, carrying their rifles. When they gave the command to clear the way, they expected people to do so, and with immediacy. As I watch today, I see the definition of “dirge” come to life, as the life of one who sacrificed what should have been a fairly normal life as her Uncle, King Edward VIII’s neice, melted away when he abdicated, and she assumed the responsibilities and roles of monarch when her own father passed away when she was still a tender twenty-five year-old woman. What dreams did that ten-year-old girl sacrifice to serve and sustain the people she represented?
I’m reminded also of watching the Changing of the Guard outside of Buckingham Palace on that same trip in 2005, then meeting members of the Maasai Cricket Warriors there as Russ, Tasha, and I paraded about in the drizzle there one afternoon on our 2013 excursion. I remember pondering about tribes and imperialism, and making sure to pay those men the respect that I felt like they deserved, the same as I would have paid the Queen herself. For all people deserve respect and honor.
The bagpipes, those haunting bagpipes, how my own ancestors were hunted down by the English, abused and enslaved, treated for centuries as second-class citizens. But how this woman loved those pipes, too. How the past was no more her fault that it was mine. Maybe all any of us can do with any authority we’re given is to try to make the world a better place for others. And I think that she tried to do that. I think she tried to smile with grace and tried to live in love. And if she held any malice in her heart, I’m not her judge, anyway. I just know that what I’m witnessing today is something which I shall never again quite witness in the same way again, even if God blesses me with double the amount of life I have had to this point. No more Queens in my lifetime. Though without a strange twist of fate, there shouldn’t have been one, anyway. Rest well, Queen Elizabeth II; your Prince awaits you.