The Queen’s Speech
December 26, 2019
The Sound of Music and Love Actually, yes, but the Queen’s Speech is not normally part of my appointment television habits at Christmas.
This year, I watched it twice.
The pacing and coordination with the b-roll cutaways felt especially poignant.
And I’m not talking about the drone shots of ancient castles and verdant hills, or the pans across the string section of the Royal Philharmonic —the usual Royal blah blah blah.
This year, I watched it twice because HRH transcended her non-partisan function and made the personal political.
Lillibet’s heart and throat were caught up in this year’s message of global co-operation.
There was the way the camera held on the angelic face of a black boy in the choir, followed by the family portrait of Elizabeth, Philip and Doria, Meghan and Harry enthralled by the presence of Archie, the newest member of their family.
We can do it and so can you, Elizabeth was telling the world.
It is also tradition for the Queen’s Speech to combine the sweep of history with a laser-beam focus on the human values that matter most, in any age.
This year, vague platitudes were replaced with clips from the most recent NATO summit showing clear examples of past political divides broached: France (Macron) hugging Germany (Merkel) at the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and a long pause on Canada (Trudeau), so key to the Allied victory in WWII and the decades of peace keeping that followed.
As the Queen spoke, the line-up of family photos next to her wasn’t just a display of succession for the monarchists in the front row.
It was a daughter finding support in the memory of a father whose errant lock of hair she cleared from his eyes in newsreels from the early 1930s.
She must have stroked his face again when he unexpectedly ascended to the throne as the world went to war.
As binge watchers of The Crown know, George VI became king not just so his brother could marry the divorcee he loved, but so that Great Britain and the Allies could be spared the King’s fascist networking.
Edward needed to be sidelined.
As a young Queen, Elizabeth pored over every last document proving her uncle’s ugly, divisive views.
Like her father, Elizabeth is determined to play a role in bending the arc of history back towards justice and cooperation.
Her generation, she said, had D-Day.
Today we have the armies of young people working in racial justice and environmental activism, two issues a resurgent fascism is twisting.
The Queen made clear she approves of the work the young activists are doing.
More than anything, this year’s speech was delivered by a great grandmother.
It had all the markings of “the great grandmother effect”: it was an example of extended kin networking designed to strengthen the entire world.