Who dreamed of being a princess?
When I was a wee girl I never dreamed of being a princess. For years I wanted to be a cowboy. In particular I wanted to be a certain Cheyenne Bodie-a good guy in the main. Maybe I just thought he was big and handsome but I’m told I wouldn’t answer to anything but Cheyenne for some time. I grew out of it as you will have gathered but never wanted the princess look or life ever. Perhaps that meant I was never likely to be pro-royalty. Mostly they didn’t interest me and as a concept I believe an inherited monarchy is very outdated for our times, as well as a barrier to a fairer society.
But nonetheless I shed tears yesterday when the Queen died. I’m 66 and she has been there all my life. A constant, a symbol of loyalty, duty and service that seem so lacking in many in public life. I saw her twice in my life. Once we queued up as a family along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh during one of her yearly visits to the Capital. On this occasion she was in a royal carriage moving slowly between the Castle and Holyrood Palace. Perhaps I was even waving a flag as so many have done before me, I don’t recall. But I do remember being deeply disappointed. Because she didn’t look like a Queen at all! There was no bejewelled dress, no ermine cape and worst of all, no crown. She looked like my Mum you see. Now my Mum was a pretty woman and always looked nice. She was always well turned out! But not like a Queen. Queens shouldn’t look like your Mum. I went home very deflated. By the time I saw her for the second time, I was prepared to see her without a crown or even a tiara. It was at the Royal Garden Party in Holyrood. She was in the distance and I wasn’t one of those selected to be introduced so she was a distant figure in the crowd.
She still looked like my Mum. My Mum was much the same age and they shared hairstyles from the glamour of the 1940s and 50s to these later years when the soft white curls were kind to their older profiles. My Mum died five years ago now and there is no doubt some of my tears yesterday were for her too. And I wanted to call her to reminisce and see how she was. Grief is never simple. I’m sure many yesterday had great empathy for the family gathering together hoping to get some final moments with her. Those journeys are so painful in their urgency coupled with dread of the letting go.
Of course grief has been especially present for me recently. Knowing I now have stage four cancer has triggered my own grief. I’m trying to make sense of this time and feel a drive not to waste the time I have. I’m worrying for my family and how they will be once I’m gone but I know they will be ok in time. There is a selfish part of my grief as I don’t want to lose them. But that is life and loss and if I allow myself to sink into this grief alone, I waste this precious time. I’m determined not to do that but also I know to allow a place for my grief.
So as I grieve for the Queen my tears will be a complex mix, like most of us. Tears for her loss and her family’s too, for this fragile country and what will become of it and for ourselves triggered into recognising our own grief. As she reportedly said herself, “Grief is the price we pay for love”. So in this blog I’m giving thanks for her life as one well lived and for my own family, those who have passed and those so precious to me now.Every hour with my family and friends will all be treasured.