Happy Platinum Jubilee, your Maj! Since 1952, you’ve never given us a reason to stop saying, “Yas Queen.” More than half a century after Paul McCartney closed out the Beatles’s catalogue with a paean to you, nobody needs a bellyful of wine to confess that we love you a lot.
Queen Elizabeth II has one of the weirdest jobs on earth — the mega-posh version of being a Walmart greeter. Seven full decades of smiling and waving and hat-wearing with no actual power, not even the ability to chop off her enemies’ heads on Tower Hill — gotta be exhausting. Oh, and keeping her mouth shut. That must be the hardest part of all. Just look at how difficult Gnarly Prince Charlie finds it, with his dull lectures on architecture and global warming.
Roughly 97 percent of people now alive are too young to remember when Elizabeth became Queen, and she’s gone the distance without a single misplaced step. For her Diamond Jubilee, a decade ago, she spent eight hours on her feet watching the Thames regatta in her honor, grinning in the rain. What other elderly woman would be asked to remain on her feet all day? As her loyal subject Sir Elton John, whom she knighted and with whom she once danced to “Rock Around the Clock,” put it, “I’m still standing, better than I ever did.”
This week, during four days of Platinum Jubilee overload, Elizabeth still managed to look delighted at the pomp and pageantry when she probably just wanted to rest her feet, crack a bottle of Chardonnay and watch “Bridgerton” like the rest of us. “You are perfect,” Ed Sheeran warbled to the Queen, and who could disagree?
It’s the greatest and longest public performance of all time: 70 years of sticking to her weird feudal script. She endured having a jug-eared dope of a philanderer for her heir, a sex predator for another son, a lush for a sister, and a dizzy self-absorbed twit for a daughter-in-law. She survived Diana’s death, Harry’s public gelding by a third-rate soap star, Charles’s “I wish I were your tampon” tape, Andrew’s slow-motion disgrace, the Sex Pistols, Boris Johnson’s haircut, COVID, the IRA and her castle getting roasted in a $70 million blaze.
Even when things grew sordid and terrible, did she say, “This sucks and I want out?” No, she mildly observed that things were less than ideal in the classy way: “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure…it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis,’” she said at the time. The guy who writes “Downton Abbey” couldn’t have scripted it any finer. During the war, she fixed pickup trucks, and 30 years ago, she even volunteered to start paying income tax, the first British monarch to do so.
When Harry and Meghan, two of the most undeservingly overprivileged people on earth, went on Oprah’s show to whine about their hurt feelings and phantom mistreatment, it was not just slanderous and indecorous, it was nauseatingly American. It was also a shattering of the code of omertà inside the Firm. King Charles I did less emoting on his way to get his head removed in 1649 than Harry did about paying for his own bodyguards. A thousand years of stiff-upper-lipping went in the bin.
So how did the Queen respond? She stayed on brand. She remained placid and genteel. And she dismissed their crybaby distortions with these three words: “Recollections may vary.” Mic, consider yourself dropped. When Daniel Craig did that 007 skit with her at the London Olympics in 2012, it marked the first time in history James Bond was ever out-cooled. Don’t believe the rumors that it was a stunt double who parachuted into Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremonies. You know it was really Liz.
In an age when nobody seems to understand his job anymore — celebrities think they’re political activists, politicians think they’re performers, cops play hall monitor while children are getting gunned down — the Queen reminds us every day of the meaning of duty. On her 21st birthday — the age of a college junior! — she told the world, “I declare before you all that my whole life — whether it be long or short — shall be devoted to your service.” Seventy-five years later, she is the rock of our times. Queen E, you’re the Queen Bee. You rule. Literally.