As the airwaves are filled with stories and tidbits about Queen Elizabeth II, I’d like to add one of my own.
On a 2014 London visit, I stood on a bright sunny Summer day at the gates of Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. As an American, this was a must, to experience the unique pomp and regiment of centuries old monarchal traditions.
Luckily, I got a wonderful front-row view on the flank of the guard, right up against the gates. As I stood there waiting for the time of the change, I took in the entire view. As a fan of architecture, I looked up and down admiring the palace and its opulence. Then I noticed the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom flag flying above the building. In my research, and by watching the movie National Treasure, I knew when that flag is raised, the queen is in residence. I smiled and felt rather satisfied knowing that when I was here to see her house, she was in there, maybe glancing out at the crowd…maybe even at me.
Just then a car drove through the gates and pulled up to the side portico entrance. Some people got in and it turned around and stopped right in front of us while the gate reopened.
Out of curiosity, I couldn’t help peeking into the car. No more than 20 feet away from me were the queen and Prince Philip in the flesh. I was sure if it. To the naked eye, it was an older man and elderly lady with a hat. But then as the car passed through the gates to leave the palace, I noticed the Royal Standard flag lower and immediately the union jack raise to fly above the palace. That confirmed it! The queen had left the building.
Seeing the queen may be a semi-typical experience for Brits, but as an American visiting Britain, it was a highlight for my tourist list.
An outsider looking in, I’ve always been fascinated by British history and have made it a mission to learn as much as possible about the intricacies and peculiarities of the British crown throughout the two millennia. Filled with many kinds of intrigue such as divorce, adultery, overthrows, feuds, abdications, strife, sorrow and several beheadings, the annals of their history read like an interesting soap opera.
Now that she’s passed, I feel extra proud that I was able to glimpse the lady to match the myth and the memory of her Majesty.
But after nearly a century of her image on film, one question still remains – a secret that may go with her. What was in the purse she always carried?
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022