The Queen

“Don’t forget, I used to be a mechanic during the war.” Queen Elizabeth was a mechanic!? What? But she’s so snobbish and proper. How did she ever end up as a mechanic? These are just a few thoughts I had when I was watching The Queen tonight.

My students at Ternopil National Pedagogical University told me about the movie after they watched in an English class. The girls loved it. They came to hate Queen Elizabeth. They thought she was horrible. She was. She was cold and impersonal. She wasn’t normal. She was not the sort of person you’d want to invite for tea. And yet, she was the queen. Don’t queens have a right to be snobbish and impersonal? Doesn’t being a royal give her the right to be distant and abnormal?

I see why Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her performance. She was great as the queen. She even had that Duckish walk down. And the movie was quite interesting. It made me want to brush up on the last century of British history. I’ve always focused on the really old stuff. King Henry VIII was always one of my favorite British jokes.

I’m sort of curious about this movie though. Do we hate Queen Elizabeth for being so “British?” Do we love Diana for being so beautiful? I remember when Princess Diana died. It happened right before my freshman year of high school. My mom bought all of the magazines about her death. I also remember when John F. Kennedy Jr. died. I was sad as I assumed he would marry me when he’d dumped the skinny blond girl and I hit 18. Unfortunately, I don’t remember when some other important people died. I don’t remember where I was when President Reagan died… and he was the president of my country. I don’t remember because it wasn’t as important to me, but for some reason, JFK Jr. and Princess Diana were those stars we loved to love. We all paid attention to them. I remember the People magazine covers with their faces on the cover, but what about Mother Teresa. Now there was a great lady. Was her face on the cover of people? It’s strange, the things we remember, the people we honor.

I wonder if Queen Elizabeth ever watched this movie The Queen. I wonder is she reacted to it the way Sarah Palin reacted to Tina Fey after she played her on SNL. You can read the papers to try to the some research, but aren’t the papers part of the problem? Can’t an editor swing things to get his point of view across? I went to journalism school and the one thing I figured out when I was there is that there is no such thing as fair and balanced. Everyone has his or her own bias. We can try to suppress it and be open-minded but there will always be a time when robotic journalists come forward with their “personal opinions.” That’s just the way it is. I accept it. That’s why I write for the fabulous news site: This is journalism at its best! (Wink!)

I think if I were given the opportunity, I would still like to meet the queen. When I first went to London in 2002, my goal was to have tea with the queen. I settled for drinking tea and visiting the gates of Buckingham Palace every day for a week. No. I wasn’t a stalker, but I knew that she was busy and I didn’t want to push my way into an introduction. If I were to meet Queen Elizabeth, I don’t think I’d ask her about the movie. I think I’d stick to something else. Maybe I’d ask her about being a mechanic or which of her profiles she prefers on the money in England, the younger or the older. Or maybe, I’d stick to something really safe like the weather. You know them Brits, they like talking about the weather.

“The weather is very fine today.”

“I think it’s going to rain and I forgot my umbrella.”

Yeah, she’d definitely like me if I talked about the weather.


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