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TRUE STORIES

Elizabeth II, queen for 25,550 days

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We have on our kitchen windowsill a small, solar-powered figurine of Queen Elizabeth II holding a purse in the crook of her left arm. Her right arm is up, parallel to her head, and she waves hello by repeatedly twisting her wrist, her hand slightly cupped.  

Last Monday was the first day I waved back — but mine was goodbye.  

Although I’m not so enamored with her majesty as my wife (she follows Britain’s Royals like I follow Kansas City’s) I have to admit the funeral was a smashing affair (watched by meself and 11 million or so other Americans on TV). 

The long, measured, processional march toward the chapel at Windsor Castle (left/right, left/right) included costumed Grenadiers, horsemen, notaries, and royal descendants (some with chests packed with medals). When the hearse stopped, and the rear door opened, eight uniformed pallbearers lifted the coffin to their shoulders and took it methodically up the steps.  

The Queen’s closest confidants, her two corgi, Muick and Sandy, and her pony, Emma, were led out to witness the funeral procession as it arrived at Windsor Castle. 

Once inside, the Queen’s crown, orb, and sceptre were lifted from the coffin, and it was lowered slowly into the royal vault below St. George’s Chapel. This was the part that I found a little peculiar as it was a bit like watching a plane being lowered to the bottom deck of an aircraft carrier.  

I got to thinking about America and why so many of its citizens are enamored with the royal family, as evidenced by not only by those viewing the queen’s funeral but also the popularity of TV shows like “The Crown.”  

According to The Guardian, some Brits feel that Americans love the royal family more than they do, treating it as a royal soap opera — which of course, it is.  

I also found myself wondering about who would be considered royal family in America. As we all know football is sovereign in America, Tom Brady and his wife, Gisele, and their three kids come to mind. (Some might vote for the Kardashians, but they don’t quite make it as they’ve only dated pro-football players.) 

When comes to an American queen, though, there’s only one possibility — Oprah. 

Some reading this will likely remember “Queen for a Day,” a TV show that was popular in the mid 1950s. Each female contestant was asked to talk about some recent financial and emotional hardship she had been through, then host, Jack Bailey, would ask what she needed most — and why she wanted to win the title of Queen for a Day. 

Often the request was for critical medical care or therapeutic equipment to help a chronically ill child. Or it might be something as simple a new washing machine, or a refrigerator. Many women broke down sobbing as they described their plights. 

The winning contestant was selected by the audience using an applause meter — the harsher the contestant's situation, the likelier the studio audience was to ring the applause meter's highest level.  

The winner, to the musical accompaniment of “Pomp and Circumstance,” would be draped in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe, given a glittering jeweled crown to wear, placed on a velvet-upholstered throne, and handed a dozen long-stemmed roses to hold while her list of prizes was announced. 

The prizes began with whatever the woman had requested, and went on to include a variety of extras, many of which were donated by sponsors, such as a vacation trip, a night on the town with her husband, kitchen appliances, or fashion clothing. The losing contestants were each given smaller consolation prizes. 

Bailey’s trademark sign-off was: “This is Jack Bailey, wishing we could make every woman a queen for every single day!” 

Getting back to Elizabeth II, my favorite stories about her are those that give example to her penchant for pithy remarks, so I’ll close with one. 

Some of her most candid interactions, it seems, occurred with the artists who painted her official portraits. During a sitting with the painter Juliet Pannett, the Queen described a time at her Sandringham estate where she had personally popped into a local shop to buy cake for afternoon tea.  

Inside the shop, a senior citizen looked at the plainly dressed monarch and exclaimed, “Good heavens, you look just like the Queen,” to which she quipped, “How reassuring.” 

  

J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and eulogist. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 620-704-1309 or jtknoll@swbell.net. 

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