Whether you love or hate the monarchy, you have to admit that Queen Elizabeth II had style.
From my experience, Canadians as a whole (with the exception of Aboriginal people who rightfully are quite wary of the representative of a country that tried to destroy their culture) are definitely more enamoured with the monarchy than the people living UK-side. I think it comes from some strange sense of displacement resulting from the fact that many Canadians are only first or second generation. Especially in my grandmother's generation, there is still a yearning for the imagined homeland, even for those who never really lived there. Francophones are, obviously, exempt from this observation as are the myriad of Canadians whose ancestors are from other parts of the world.
Some examples of our strange love affair with the monarchy:
- I have personally been in the homes of multiple elderly people who have either commemorative plates or spoons (or both) with pictures of the monarchy proudly displayed on their walls.
- Almost everyone in my family stayed up until 2 am to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. I know this because even though I was only five years old, they kept me awake by feeding me caffeinated fizzy beverages and sugar.
- My grandmother used to tell me that if I was very lucky (and lady-like) I could marry Prince William. Obviously my grandmother lacks an understanding about how royal marriages tend to work.
- Many of us (delusionally) imagine that we do a good impression of the Queen's accent, which we practice during the long winter months. Some of us also practice The Royal Wave (TM).
- I've been to at least a dozen formal dinning events where hundreds of people have risen to their feet, held their wine glasses in the air and chanted "To the Queen!". Yes, this is something we do. Even in Saskatchewan.
- I know all the words to 'God Save the Queen' because when I was in elementary school, we sang it every morning after the Lord's Prayer and Oh Canada.
- Every Canadian province spends money on a Lieutenant Governor, whose only job is to be our local Queen's Representative. All the LGs report to the all mighty Governor General of Canada, who is the closest thing we have in our country to the Queen (note: despite being appointed by the Canadian Government, she also reports directly to the Queen of England).
The only reason I actually had occasion to speak to the Queen is because I was standing next to then Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan, an Aboriginal woman who was none too pleased with the history of the atrocities the British committed against her people throughout Canada's official history or the fact that, in her eyes, the Queen represented it. Picture it:
"Your Majesty, this is our wonderful Poet Laureate," speaker of the House of Commons.
"Oh, hello. Lovely to meet you," the Queen, her hand extended.
Poet's eyes go wide, face flushes and she takes a step back.
"This is my friend Amy," Poet Laureate.
"Um. Oh... OK then. Well, hello dear," the Queen says reluctantly to me and shakes my hand.
"OH MY GOD! YOU'RE THE QUEEN! HOLY CRAP!" (that would be me, though not verbatim)
The Queen moved on pretty damn quickly, let me tell you.
It's not that I am in awe of the monarchy and to be honest, I don't even really have a major political stance on whether UK (or Canadian) tax payers should continue to fund what is likely an archaic system that is past being useful. But she's the Queen! The iconic Queen of England whose face is on our money. I think I would react the same if I met, for example, Michael Jackson or Elizabeth Taylor. Again, not because I am a huge fan. Just because, you know, WOW!