I do not have sufficient words for Her Majesty, so I will leave it to those who do. On the occasion of her Silver Jubilee, Philip Larkin wrote this verse, which I think says it all and remains true of her:
In times when nothing stood But worsened or grew strange There was one constant good She did not change
And Ted Hughes – who, I have learned, was a great monarchist – wrote this, also lovely:
A nation’s a soul A soul is a wheel With a crown for a hub To keep it whole
For this extraordinary celebration, Britain’s current Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, has written the following (please check here for his beautiful tribute to Prince Philip).
And how can I omit, as we talk all things Jubilee, this precious moment? Her Majesty is a good sport. (I love how the marmalade sandwiches are unwrapped.)
Melanie Phillips has written a great tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is the nation, she writes, she must live forever. I’ll admit to having the same feeling about Her Majesty. I was upset to see that she was not able to attend the Remembrance service yesterday in London. You know she isn’t well, if that is the case – we know what these things mean to her. I had also been a bit surprised to see her looking gaunt a few weeks ago, but, as my spouse points out, Elizabeth is 95 and she lost her dear husband earlier this year. Of course, she cannot live forever. We know this. But her vulnerability brings something even more meaningful, more profound, to her relationship with her subjects. Giles Fraser writes about this phenomenon at Unherd.
Indeed, the version of the Queen that we are now seeing is the greatest of her roles as our monarch. It is not important if she misses COP26 or other political talking shops. She is doing something much more important now.
She is showing us what human life is all about when we loosen our grip on power and status and function. Her last act may well be her finest.
The poet laureate of the UK, Simon Armitage, has written a most beautiful tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh (title above). Not sycophantic, not pompous, fresh and sensible, like the Duke himself. It was published for the first time yesterday, the day of Philip’s funeral. It reads like a tribute to a man and also to a generation – we won’t see their like again, sadly.
The weather in the window this morning is snow, unseasonal singular flakes, a slow winter’s final shiver. On such an occasion to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up for a whole generation – that crew whose survival was always the stuff of minor miracle, who came ashore in orange-crate coracles, fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.
Husbands to duty, they unrolled their plans across billiard tables and vehicle bonnets, regrouped at breakfast. What their secrets were was everyone’s guess and nobody’s business. Great-grandfathers from birth, in time they became both inner core and outer case in a family heirloom of nesting dolls. Like evidence of early man their boot-prints stand in the hardened earth of rose-beds and borders.
They were sons of a zodiac out of sync with the solar year, but turned their minds to the day’s big science and heavy questions. To study their hands at rest was to picture maps showing hachured valleys and indigo streams, schemes of old campaigns and reconnaissance missions. Last of the great avuncular magicians they kept their best tricks for the grand finale: Disproving Immortality and Disappearing Entirely.
The major oaks in the wood start tuning up and skies to come will deliver their tributes. But for now, a cold April’s closing moments parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.
What a vile pair. Prince Philip is in the hospital and there is a worldwide public health crisis but it’s all about H&M. Forgive me if I blame Meghan, though – Harry was once a young man who served his country and founded the Invictus Games, so there was a kernel of decency there. Now he has Stockholm Syndrome, from what I can see. Interesting to me is the amount of support the couple are getting in the U.S. I am not remotely anti-American – unlike so many of my compatriots – but I am truly disgusted with the fact that so many Americans, including rather prominent ones, simply believe what Meghan asserted in the “interview.” (It really wasn’t the latter, at all. An interviewer would have challenged what were clearly some blatant falsehoods.) Anyway, the brilliant Melanie Phillips knocks it out of the park here, and Rod Liddle gets a touchdown here (see what I did there?).
Of the truly evil suggestion that someone in the royal family was worried Archie might have dark skin, Liddle writes: “So — who asked about Archie’s skin color, then? Not naming the supposed miscreant was another act of self-indulgence and cowardice from Meghan and Harry. Besmirch the entire royal family by not providing a name.” Indeed, the passive-aggressive nature of the accusation boggles the mind. There is real weaselish-ness in not naming a name and of not being specific about the alleged comment and the context of it. Now the public will wonder – was it William? Kate? Charles? And what was the comment, exactly? Way to smear people, Megs.
I hope Harry’s family will be forgiving, because after the divorce he will need support.