Sunday Lifestyle

God save the queen!

- Inez S. Reyes -

This Week’s Winner

Inez S. Reyes is currently CEO of a barbevcue chain founded by her husband Frank Reyes. She spent more than 20 years as a corporate marketing executive in Jollibee, Coca-Cola and San Miguel. She loevs history and avidly collects books on Philippine history, the Roman empire, the British royalty, and TV series and documentaries by the BBC.

MANILA, Philippines - It all started when I saw the Oscar-nominated film Elizabeth in 1998. I became an absolute fan of the British monarchy, and I have spent the last 14 years since then, devouring books and magazines, watching films, television series and documentaries, and grabbing anything I could get my hands on that would allow me a closer glimpse and deeper understanding of the history, tradition, psychology, values and character of a British monarch and the British monarchy. It has actually come to a point, strangely, that I can adeptly narrate the history of the British monarchy with the same passion and knowledge as I have for the history of our own country.

It may seem really silly to some, but a year ago, on April 29, 2011, I took a leave from work and stayed in bed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — totally immersed in the 12-hour, non-stop coverage of the royal wedding, and enjoying it immensely! It isn’t just the pomp and pageantry of these royal events that beguile me, although I thoroughly enjoy this aspect. I am actually awed and fascinated at how and why the British monarchy has not only endured, but has also remained steadfastly true to the traditions of an unbroken line of almost a thousand years.

This year, Queen Elizabeth II marks her Diamond Jubilee — 60 years on the throne — her reign alone already a lifetime in itself. She is probably the most well known monarch in modern history and to the great majority of the modern, global population, she is a true celebrity.

Again, it may seem silly to some, and I’m almost sounding like a fanatic, but I really asked myself, “as an admirer of the monarchy, particularly the Queen, what could I do as my own special celebration of her Diamond Jubilee here in Manila?”

Lo and behold, I soon found my answer starring at me in the wall display shelf of my favorite bookstore – the book The Real Elizabeth, An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II written by veteran British political journalist, Andrew Marr.

What a joyous and fascinating read! What a wonderful explanation of why the Queen is who she is, why she acts and reacts the way she does, and why despite all the challenges and threats to her role and position as monarch, she has withstood everything and has emerged, at 85 years old, as strong, as lasting, and as venerable as the proverbial English oak.

Andrew Marr’s description of the Queen’s daily life — she actually works, mind you, and has a punishing daily schedule — makes one wonder how she does it. Then he goes back a couple of generations to her grandfather George V and father George Vl (of  The King’s Speech movie fame) who have been her strong life models, and traced the Queen’s steadfastness and calm to their passing to her the acceptance that a monarch’s role is a duty given by God, practically a religious vocation for life, for country, and for good. It is the unshakeable commitment to this belief and vocation that has guided the Queen for the last six decades, and will continue to guide her in the years to come. And as she continues to live out this vocation, the quiet power of her character has shined through, making her, to a majority of the British people and to the admirers of royalty such as myself, the foremost symbol of what is best in the British.

History buffs like me take pleasure in the little, behind-the-scene stories of history and in the Queen’s case there are plenty … from her grandfather’s “rebranding” their family name to the current “Windsor” to erase their German family connection and protect the royal family against the backlash of anti-German, and anti-Nazi sentiments of the first and second world wars; to the Queen’s personal, almost therapist-like relationships with the 16 British prime misters who have benefitted from her wisdom during their weekly meetings with her; to the nerve wracking period during which the “empire” was transforming itself into a “commonwealth;”  to the dictators of some commonwealth countries whose actions the Queen had to close her eyes to; to the way the royal family would hold their barbecue parties;  to the exciting but unhappy life of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret; to how the Queen’s childhood governess, and decades later, Princess Diana, would break the thousand year royal tradition of personal privacy; to how wealthy the Queen is, etc. There is so much to chew on, so much to get enlightened on. What a story!

It’s been a lifetime of dedication to her subjects and to the United Kingdom, and I have to say that the British people are more than fortunate, blessed is more the word, to have a monarch as admirable as Queen Elizabeth II.

It is 2012, and with three years more, God willing, Queen Elizabeth II will become England’s longest-reigning monarch, beating the length of reign of her great-great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. Needless to say, I’ve been offering a daily prayer to the Almighty that He allows the Queen to reach this historic milestone!

In the meantime, I’m trying to contact London-based friends for some Diamond Jubilee souvenirs. I’m taking another leave from work on June 2, the day of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, to watch the coverage, and taking still another leave in July, on the opening day of the London Olympics to watch Her Majesty beguile us “royalists” again, with her simplicity, humility, dignity, and wonderful smile. God save the Queen!









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