Ross: Why my moment with Queen Elizabeth changed my view of American politics
Sep 9, 2022, 8:03 AM
I found myself more affected by Queen Elizabeth’s death than I thought I would be.
I do have a superficial connection: she became queen the year I was born, and when you’ve heard the name Queen Elizabeth for 70 years, it takes on a permanence that’s hard to shake.
Plus – I got to see her in person. In 1977 my wife and I were in Newcastle-on-Tyne to spend a week living with a British couple as part of Jimmy Carter’s short-lived Friendship Force. That year also happened to be the Queen’s Silver Jubilee – the 25th anniversary of her reign. And she had come to Newcastle aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. She appeared before a crowd of admirers.
We were part of that crowd. And to our delight, the Queen stepped out of the car:
“There was one unscheduled stall ordered by the Queen to enable her to accept a gift of flowers,” a newscast of the event details.
She walked right by us – and my wife recalls actually touching her gloved hand.
OK, so not quite a Forrest Gump moment.
But the other thing I remember about that day in Newcastle was that there were no protestors, barely a security detail, just a lot of people who wanted to wave and smile at their queen. I can only compare it to the kind of love Seattle felt when Marshawn Lynch tossed Skittles at the Superbowl parade.
As an American, of course, I should have nothing but scorn for the institution of the monarchy.
But there is something to be said for having a figure whose job it is to maintain a sense of dignity no matter how ugly the politics become.
The Queen never gave a public interview. She was there to be the Queen – dignified, and distant.
A chaperone at the political prom – who could talk to a prime minister in private – not give orders – but to calm things down. And to serve as a reminder that politicians come and go, but for a nation to endure, its people have to find a way to stick together.
Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.
- Tune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.