Chapter 31 - Mrs Queen Takes the Train
A few weeks ago the beloved monarch of Great Britain and the Commonwealth passed away at age 96. For many of her people, she is the only monarch they have ever known. Like all families, the House of Windsor, had its ups and downs, comedies and tragedies, and just plain stupidities (like that weird uncle you all don't talk about). Queen Elizabeth II remained cool and calm throughout her life of public service. I'm sure there are things that made her want to knock heads together but, at least in public, she gave off the appearance that she was handling whatever occurred. She got her countries through war, peace, inflation, the 60's, whack-a-doodle prime ministers, and personal tragedies to her family. I don't know that we have ever had anyone in America who could have done the same.
Upon her death there has been some vitriol thrown her way by people who would claim themselves "woke". These well educated people have derided her for the colonialism of Britain, a policy which was never instituted during her time. Others have denounced her for the brutal aggression of Britain towards the African peoples as they were working towards independence. While history is important, and free speech a part of a democratic government, the time and place of that free speech is also important. The death of a 96 year old woman, who was a symbolic head of state with no real governmental power, is probably not the time.
There are many wonderful books written about the Queen and her times including a few novels. Her are a few that I recommend.
Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn - In this novel a bored Queen Elizabeth strolls out of Buckingham Palace and begins some adventures. This is much to the consternation of her courtiers who are very upset that they have misplaced her.
Winston Churchill and the Queen: An Unlikely Friendship by Oliver Williams - Elizabeth's first prime minister was Winston Churchill who not only guided her through the early muddy waters of her reign but developed a deep admiration for the young queen. This is not a history book, although it is historically accurate, but rather a book about the friendship between two people of very different generations.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith - This biography came out a few years ago but is still one of my favorites. Smith drew on documents and interviews to write this missive about the Queen and it is as detailed and on point as a biography can be about anyone. You will definitely have an understanding of who Elizabeth was after reading this.
The Windsor Knot: A Novel by SJ Bennett - I have to believe that Elizabeth got a kick out of some of the novels written about her especially this one and the one mentioned above. The Windsor Knot is the first in the Her Majesty the Queen Investigates series, Elizabeth finds herself solving murders along with her royal duties. In this one, as England starts to celebrate the monarch's 90th birthday, a guest is found dead in one of Buckingham Palace's bedrooms. MI5 believe that the Russians are to blame and the Queen finds herself investigating.
Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner - This memoir by a woman who was Princess Margaret's lady in waiting until the time of her death. This is a memoir so while it is really about Anne and her relationship with Margaret, it gives an interesting perspective to many of the events in Elizabeth's life as well.
The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe by Angela Kelly - Angela Kelly has served as the Queen's dresser for over 25 years and does a great job of managing the Elizabeth's visual brand. Their relationship is detailed in this work and the book is filled with never seen before photos. It is a wonderful remembrance.
Whether you loved Queen Elizabeth, hated her or were simply neutral, Elizabeth was an icon of Great Britain throughout her 70 year reign. May she rest in peace.