Queen Elizabeth II played the hand she was dealt

Queen Elizabeth II is seen at the Chichester Theatre while visiting West Sussex on November 30, 2017 in Chichester, United Kingdom.

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

As a person whose eight great-grandparents were born in Ireland, my enthusiasm for British royalty is rather limited. Irish Times columnist Patrick Freyne may have put it most succinctly: “Having a monarchy next door,” he wrote in 2021, “is a little like having a neighbor who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbor who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.”

That said, I never took it personally. I’d pretty much overdosed on ethnic nationalism by age 12 or thereabouts, tired of being told there was a proper “Irish” opinion on every imaginable topic, and that it agreed with my maternal grandfather’s. I don’t recall how he answered when I asked why he spent so much time talking about a foreign country he’d never visited. It was a rhetorical question. Many of my classmates at school had grandparents with one foot in the old country — Ireland, Italy, Poland, etc. We were American kids.

At our wedding, to give you some idea, my mother demanded to know of Diane’s kin, “What nationality are you people, anyway?” (Louisiana French.) They were flabbergasted. Indeed, my wife was never forgiven for not being named Ginger O’Grady. But that was nothing to do with me.

But no, I never held all that sad history against Queen Elizabeth II. So her ancestors caused mine to die of famine. Nothing she personally could have done about it. Insofar as I could tell, she played the hand she was dealt with grace and dignity — even back when she was Princess Elizabeth, driving ambulances during the London Blitz and giving radio pep talks to British children.

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She reigned a very long time.

Out of curiosity, I checked the front page of The Irish Times on the day she died. The lead story was the arrival in Dublin of country singer Garth Brooks for a series of shows. He’s hugely popular there; the Irish love ballads. The queen’s death was relegated to the bottom of the page. Coverage was respectful, but muted, in contrast to the worshipful spectacle on American TV.

What the English have given us — Irish, American, Canadian, Australian, Indian, et al. — is their language: the language of Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Austen, Tolkien and Orwell. Also of Jefferson, Twain, …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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