Queen Elizabeth II is ninety-six years old and celebrating her seventieth year on the British throne with a platinum jubilee. She is the longest reigning monarch in British history, and the longest reigning queen regnant in history, period. To mark the occasion, she attended an event last night called “A Gallop Through History”, which was televised and featured Tom Cruise and Helen Mirren as presenters. Helen Mirren I get, she played QEII in The Queen, a dramatic work that went a LONG way to reviving Elizabeth’s public reputation after the damage done in the “Diana years”, especially 1997. But Tom Cruise? What does he have to do with anything? I thought the same when he was at Princess Diana’s funeral. Where’s the investigative podcast on the Cruise-royal connection? Someone explain this to me.
The queen was accompanied by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and while I won’t assume he actually IS her least favorite child, I WILL call him her “least remembered child” because when I saw his face, it took me a minute to get to, Oh right, Edward, that’s the one. She can also be seen carrying/using a walking stick. There have been a lot of cancellations in the queen’s itinerary recently that have resulted in frank speculation about her health, and while the palace hasn’t officially copped to anything, I think it’s pretty clear the queen is having mobility issues, and some of those cancellations might be down to the difficulty of navigating certain sites with assistance. I’m actually glad to see her using a cane. I’m sure everyone wants to project an image of health and vitality and strength for the crown, but the queen is NINETY-SIX, and an elderly woman using a walking stick isn’t a big deal and seeing the Queen of England use one can go a long way to normalizing assistive devices. Honestly, the queen using a cane is the most modern image the British royals have projected in a while.
Speaking of modern images, while Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are expected to be in the UK for the trooping of the color and the queen’s official birthday celebration in June, this weekend, they were at a polo match in Santa Barbara. Some people have speculated that when Charles is king, Harry and Meghan might get the kind of half-in/half-out deal they tried to compromise with before exiting the firm entirely. But look at them. So happy, in the sunlight, Meghan in shorts that would never be allowed under royal protocols and “suggestions”, just doing their weekend horsey things, no pressure. They’re making money, they seem pretty settled into Santa Barbara life, no one tells them what to do. Why on EARTH would they go back to working royal life, even part of the time?
Absolutely the royal family could use them, especially after the rather disastrous imaging of the recent Caribbean tours. But what would THEY get out of such a deal? Restrictions. Limitations. Not to mention the prejudice, explicit and tacit, Meghan faced without support from the institution she was meant to represent. Nah. I doubt they ever go back in an official capacity. Besides, the Caribbean tours have shown how incompatible the very notion of monarchy is with a world seeking greater equality and sociopolitical equity, and it just makes you wonder how much longer this can go on. The queen’s platinum jubilee is a landmark achievement in inherited power that we probably won’t see achieved again, and you know? That would be fine.