Our Queen’s finest moment

Oct 28, 2021 by

by Giles Fraser, UnHerd:

Vulnerability brings her closer to her subjects.

I’ve met the Queen twice. Once in a cathedral and another time in her garden. I say ‘met’, though neither encounter constitutes what could normally be described as meeting someone. We shook hands in a line-up, all of us dressed a bit funny. Both times I was too self-consciously focused on my own etiquette to use the three or four seconds of our meeting to establish any sort of connection. Remember, “Your Majesty” first, then subsequently “ma’am” which rhymes with spam not palm. I never got to the “ma’am” bit on either occasion. I bowed my head, we shook hands, she said something nice, I smiled and agreed, she smiled and moved on.

I wonder how many times she has done this? 10,000 people a year? For 69 years. Round up a bit. That’s three quarters of a million. A YouGov poll in 2018 found that 31% of the British public said that they have met or seen the Queen. By a long distance, she has been the most met monarch in history. Which is extraordinary given how shy she is. “You were so shy” Prince Philip recalled, thinking of their first meeting. She once told a friend that she was “terrified” of sitting next to strangers “in case they talk about things I’ve never heard of.” She soldiered on anyway. 

Fewer people will meet her now. Rest, withdrawal, and slight diminishments are her future. After all, she is 95. More audiences on Zoom, which she won’t like. Back to her Tupperware packed lunches and jigsaw puzzles by the fire. No more gin in the evening, on doctors orders. Her troublesome children to worry about. And now a widow. Her vulnerability only underlining once again how central she remains to this nation.

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