A Monarchy Moment
From the Editor Suzanne Boyd
THE QUEEN AND PRINCE PHILIP have always exuded glamour in the classic sense of the word, but it’s been in advanced old age that they’ve come to telegraph a quality even more ephemeral – an incongruous cool. I pinpoint the beginning of this to when Her Majesty appearedinavideowithDanielCraigwhere,asJamesBond, he braved the corgis to pick her up at Buckingham Palace before they both parachuted from a helicopter into the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony. The fact that this was achieved with body doubles and tech wizardry did little to diminish the allure that this campy wink at her own image brought to Elizabeth II. Then there was the time in 2016 when she was Prince Harry’s mic-drop moment in a video in which he and then U.S. President and Mrs. Obama exchanged some charming trash talk to promote the Prince’s Invictus Games that year. Another meme-able moment came again, courtesy of the Obamas in 2016, when Prince Philip was photographed driving the first couple and the Queen to lunch at Windsor Castle with the U.S. president riding shotgun and the women in the backseat. Despite the ride being only 400 yards from where Marine One had dropped the Obamas off, the internet collectively lost its mind, fascinated by the prospect of a then 94-year-old driving the world’s most protected man.
Prince Philip prefers carriage driving, but the Queen, though a passionate horsewoman as well, has a special affinity for vehicles harking back to the Second World War when she served as a mechanic for the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. And she uses them for her pleasure. At Balmoral in 1998, she asked the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia if he would like a tour. As recounted by Sherard Cowper-Coles in his memoir Ever the Diplomat, the royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. “As instructed, the [then] Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the first Land Rover, with his interpreter in the back. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driver’s seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.” One can imagine she did not.
In May of this year, photographs of the Queen driving her racing green Jaguar through Windsor Park went viral. Badass – a word not often used to describe Her Majesty – was blogged and tweeted, and it was noted that she does not require a licence. The alchemy of the image was again the wink. Here was this tiny, elderly woman with only the blue confection of her Sunday hat visible through the windscreen, her protection officer in the passenger seat towering above. Rather than him driving her, she chose to handle this most British of roadsters herself, signifying a particular type of mettle. A get-the-job-done type. Ma’am paspastels over millennial pink anyy day.
God save the Queen. ueen.