Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jubilee Thoughts.

RHYS BOWEN: I've lived in America for many years. My children were born here. I'm a baseball fan (go Giants). A football fan. And yet last week I had a orgy of Britishness. For four days I was glued to the telly, standing with tears in my eyes to join in Land of Hope and Glory as those boats went down the Thames.

Since there is so much that drives me crazy about my native land these days it was wonderful to be flooded with British pride. And one thing it demonstrated was that England certainly knows how to throw a party. So many parts of the celebration impressed me: the vast crowd walking in orderly fashion down the Mall toward Buckingham Palace, nobody pushing ro shoving, no policeman having to turn around and use force to control them. All those people standing out in that rain, not only uncomplaining, but looks of joy on their faces as they waved flags--especially the young women singing on top of a barge in a deluge.

And above all I was overwhelmed with pride for the queen herself (and Prince Phillip) She's in her eighties and he is ninety and yet they stood for several hours on that barge, never once using the chairs provided for them. She had a packed schedule of church service, carriage procession, rock concert, balcony appearances while worrying about her husband who had  been rushed off to hospital. She remained gracious throughout a concert full of music she doesn't like. She was visibly moved by her son's speech (and didn't you love it when he called her 'Mummy'?

My husband reads the Daily Telegraph online every morning and one nameless creature had the gall to mock "Phil the Greek" and say "it would be a good job if he croaked."  I'd like to use some of my skills I have picked up as a mystery writer and murder him with no trace if I met him. Does this worm not realize what a huge asset they are to the country--how many tourist dollars they bring in, the tradition and dignity that makes Britain unique. And their schedule is one that not many of us could imitate.

I do a book tour for a couple of weeks each year. I am met by an escort and essentially I am ON all day. I collapse into bed exhausted each night and at the end of two weeks I am whacked. The queen does this schedule every day, all year and has done it for over sixty years. Always gracious, always smiling and with a terrific sense of humor.

One of the highlights of my life was when I had tea with her when I was eighteen. Just a few young women and myself alone with the queen, and after a few minutes we were all laughing together. She has that wonderful quality of making everyone feel comfortable with her. And she was stunningly pretty as a younger woman. And Phillip--well, he was a hunk, wasn't he?

And now there were William, Harry and Kate ready to back up their grandma, giving us wonderful hope for the future. Would I trade them for a president? Would you?

Do share your thoughts on the Jubilee Celebrations.Did you love it as much as I did?


  1. Oh, Rhys, yes - I did love the Jubilee Celebrations! Did I love it as much as you - I'm sure not. It must have touched you on a level I'll never know, but envy just a bit.

    The tradition and dignity of the royal family is quite lovely. The love the British feel for them is even lovelier.

    It was refreshing, I thought, to watch a country that appeared united in their respect for their leader - a woman who deserves their respect and their love. I think she's adorable, and I would love to have just one or two of those wonderful hats of hers! And Harley would like to meet one or two of her corgis.

  2. Rhys, I have to agree with you regarding the strength, stamina, and grace of the the queen. She's often ridiculed for being dowdy, etc., but I think she makes a fabulous representative for the British people. Congrats!

  3. One of our best friends is a Brit--and he could barely talk about the Jubilee, he was so touched and proud.

    (KAye, yes we could fix up Harley with a Corgi or two..although probably, that would be frowned upon. Is there dog succession?)

    I loved how the announcers talked about how upset Prince Philip was that he was under the weather--because he "doesn't like to be a burden."

    (I remember the bicentennial in 1976--sort of the same kind of patriotic feelings. Living in Boston, it happens all the time, I must say.)

    Rhys-tell us more about the tea! How amazing.

  4. OMG - tea with the QUEEN?! And you've put it all to such good use in your books. Nice to know she's not really a cold fish.

    I do think QE2 is pretty amazing... but lotss of seriously 'old women have much more stamina than people give them credit for.

  5. The Jubilee was indeed a marvelous event! The Queen, even at the age of 86 is still a vibrant person, worthy of being a representative of the British folk!

  6. You make this Anglophile so disappointed that I didn't have time to watch any of the Jubilee! I think the Queen has always shown great strength, dignity, and grace. I'm glad that her Jubilee celebrations went off (as it sounds) spectacularly well, and that she had an opportunity to see how much she is appreciated. I know there have been mutterings over the last decade or so about the relevance of the monarchy in a modern age, but the monarchy is so entwined with British history that I can't imagine Great Britain without it, or the Queen.

    PS. I'd love to hear more about tea with the Queen!

  7. The "Mummy" moment was delightful -- and so was Charles leading the crowd in a "hip hip hooray" chant! And how very British it seems that they didn't let the rain dampen things too much!

    (And yes, Hank, 1976 -- the images and memories still bring smiles!)

  8. I was so immersed in the french Open last week that I missed everything. Talk about burying the lead - Tea with the Queen? Wanna run that by us again?

  9. I'm echoing Rosemary. I'd love to hear more about tea with the queen. Did you have to curtsy?

  10. Tea with the Queen? Yes, that DOES explain your wonderful descriptions of royal teas,etc!

    My mind was elsewhere when the celebrations were going on. I kept thinking it would not happen until late June. Not watching TV is not always good for me. I do like the way the country rallies around the queen.

    My "secret" -as a child I imagined being invited to a meal at Buckingham Palace!

  11. I enjoyed the pomp and circumstance which the British do so well. And they are all so attractive. But I'm sure this was more meaningful to you as a native. Pride and joy and all those feelings that go with being a citizen. Yes, how did you end up having tea with the Queen? :)

  12. Rhys, you should do an entire post--Tea With the Queen. You can't just toss off something like that and move on. At least, not around us! xoxo

  13. Tea with the queen. The Queen Mother was patron of my college. She was supposed to come to tea with "her girls" but was sick, so the queen came instead, saying, "Mummy sends her love."
    Six of us were chosen to have tea with her. I was college VP so naturally I was included. It was a great experience as it was so informal. She asked great questions, made us laugh. We made her giggle.
    The only drawback was that we were instructed only to eat what HM took. She had one piece of brown bread. That scene appeared in the first Royal Spyness book!

  14. Rhys, you said it all so well. As a fellow countrywoman I felt immense respect for the Queen's stamina on that boat. I am an eighty-five year old person, who remembers being on the Mall watching her pass by in the carriage on her way to her honeymoon. She was beautiful, and Philip was busy tucking a robe around her. It was delightful to see her so happy. To me,she shines with integrity, never reneging on the pledge she took after her coronation. We have every right to be proud of such a faithful and steady lady.

  15. Rhys, your words beautifully stated.
    I've been mad for England and Queen Elizabeth since a young girl. My mother & aunt made trip there in l933, seeing King Geo V & Queen Mary.
    Last summer I toured Buckingham Palace & had tea overlooking the gardens - a memorable day.
    I treasure the thank you, bordered in black with Windsor crest, I received after sending condolences to Queen E on her father's death.
    Such a thrill to see the loving response to the weekend's events.
    What is it about that orderly procession down the Mall - quite moving.
    Fantastic celebration for so many years of service to country and its people.


  16. I'm very embarrassed to say that, Anglophile though I am, I saw very little of the Jubilee. I was writing and obviously very distracted. Every so often I'd come up for air and check the TV channels but couldn't find anything. Was I in a different universe? I didn't even see the procession on the Thames! No doubt I'll be kicking myself for years to come...

    Rhys, I love your "tea with the Queen" story!!! I was thrilled just to tour Buckingham Palace when it was first opened to the public.

  17. Yes, quite a spectacle!

    By the way, isn't " Phil the Greek " really Danish? Didn't the Greeks invite the Danes to send royals when the Greek throne was vacated?

    My fantasy growing up was that someone would knock on my door, tell me the genealogy was all messed up, and I, California girl,
    was the rightful Queen of England.

    Oh, how I am glad that never could happen!

  18. Charming comments. You will quite enjoy my own blog on the Queen for May 13, 2012 - see www.crimewriters, .. Thelma Straw, yes, I'm English from way back...

  19. I missed it and your post brings tears my Anglophile eyes, Rhys. The Queen is a great lady in every sense of the word. I love Phillip and their grandchildren, too.

    Cathy AJ