Regardless of where you live or your political system, you could hardly have missed the incredible spectacle of the British Queen’s funeral arrangements a few weeks ago.
My television receives some channels from all over the world, and almost every one of them was showing the events as they unfolded. Britain, of course. The US? – it seemed likely and was. France? – it seemed unlikely and was.
Even stations in Japan and Korea. And doubtless numerous more.
I didn’t intend to watch for more than 10 minutes, but I was hooked. And so many other people have told me the same.
The British do a terrific show. Whether for a wedding, a funeral or a coronation. Such pageantry, such timing. It’s very impressive.
I have never been a close follower of royalty – in the UK where I live or anywhere else. Like celebrities, it is just not my thing. Nor have I ever watched the popular TV series, The Crown.
If you have done either of these things, you probably know more about the royal family than I ever will.
But all the attention to her life and death in the past two weeks has made me conscious of the incredibly unusual life led by Queen Elizabeth II.
And made me reflect on how I wouldn’t want it for myself.
When we were little girls, many of us wanted to grow up to be a princess. It seemed like everyone would be at your beck and call.
You could have whatever you wanted, including Prince Charming. You got to wear loads of pretty clothes. And you could undoubtedly stay up late.
Clearly, it was a great draw.
I may have thought of becoming a princess from time to time, when I didn’t want to be Roy Rogers (yes, that dates me!), but I mainly wanted to be a ballet dancer, as I have written before.
Yet whatever our dreams, I don’t think any of us ever imagined all the restraints on being a princess – or a queen.
The dreary meetings with dreary politicians from all over the world and the endless repeated conversations about the weather. You have to smile and smile, whatever you are thinking.
No blue jeans day. Even worse, no pyjamas day.
And no privacy. Or certainly very little.
By chance, I watched Roman Holiday on the television recently, and it captures expressly this problem. Audrey Hepburn was the perfect princess, who had one wonderful day doing what the rest of us do – and then had to return to her duties.
And I may add that the real Queen Elizabeth II was the personification of loyalty to duty, loved by the British for her dedication. She even managed it with what I gather was a lovely sense of humour.
Full marks to her.
But definitely not for me.
Give me the life of a well-appreciated but not famous writer any day.
There was, however, one piece of surprising information that I learned in the course of the many discussions about the Queen. It seems that her dresser always broke in her shoes. It made me wonder whether shoe size was part of the job description.
It could almost make the job tempting after all.
And you get the most wonderful send-off.
Did you want to be a princess when you were a child? Would you like to be a princess now? Or a Queen? Why? Why not?