Constitutionally conservative

by suu4leaf


I had wanted to see this film since I heard of it a very long time ago. I had a hard time believing that they only took this in after the film got Oscar – well, it was OUR Queen the film is about, set in that eventful summer when she just ceased to be our Queen anymore. I guess I really have something about Queens and the monarchy – I doubt it is some residue fantasy for those nursery tales (“…and the King’s son married the princess and they lived happily ever after in their magnificent castle…” that sort of thing) – I would rather think that I grew up among the adoration of images of the queen, and, being a fellow member of the sex, had long acquired the ability to admire the highest of the woman race. Ever since I could tell things from each other I knew there was a Queen of England, her sillouette, a pale patch of white, on each of the stamps my mother bought home, and I thought she was a queen from a distant past called once upon a time. I have no idea when I finally discovered that Her Majesty was well, living, and aging along the same time line as I was and that the timelessness inspired by the sillouette of the young Queen had deceived me. When I was in school I learned to sing this song: “Mary is our Queen O Sing to her!…” Somehow I feel we adored the Virgin more than we did Christ, and I wonder if that has anything to do with Girl’s schools’ deliberate effort to emphasize virtues of the feminine. Naturally I felt a bit feverish to share the name with the world’s greatest Queen (well she is supposed to be the mother of a God, no?) and I sang my hymes to the Virgin as hard as I could and said the rosary ever devoutly, forcing myself to complete the exhausting oral exercise of saying 10 times the Hail Mary. And then, when I studied Elizabethan English Literature, I came across one of the greatest icons in the history of English Literature – the Virgin Queen, Queen Elizabeth I (oh and of course the unpopular but no less remembered “Bloody Mary”, Queen Mary I). And when I saw how the Victorians, like their ancesters did Elizabeth I, adored Queen Victoria, I had no doubt that this is a nation who loves a Queen much more than a King.

But I think there is more to that. If anything, I think I am actually more supportive of the monarchy than I myself dare declare. And this film is just a wonderful discussion of the issue – what is a Queen? Why would we want a Queen anymore? All without being too sentimental or cynical. I do not wish to argue the value of the monarchy in the modern day, I just admire those who are put into the position as fate would have it and who make every endeavour to complete their task, with dignity. “Constitutionally”, a word that comes up again and again in the film. It was a joke at first, referring to all the seemingly absurd Royal codes; then it became ambivalent. On the phone, Tony Blair (He looked so familiar I thought he was in one of those Austen adaptations, but in fact he was Robbie Ross in Wilde) warned the Queen of the urgency of the matter, “It is constitutionally my duty to advise Your Majesty…” The Constitutional becomes Pragmatical again. It is a terrible feeling to have half the world against you when all you have been trying hard to do is to keep to the values you are required to uphold. It is a complex feeling and only those who have been in similar positions can feel it. I had that feeling, some years back. And it hurt so much. “You said one fourth of the people are against the monarchy?” The Queen asked Blair. “I have never been so hated.” “That must be a terrible feeling.” The Queen looked genuinely hurt. “Duty first, and then personal feelings. That was the way I was taught.” You ask me what it is about the monarchy that fascinates me, I would say it is just this sense of duty towards the people and the bigger cause, persistent to the point of obstinacy sometimes, but always with honour and dignity.