When the Queen smiles…

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We’re used to seeing a serious Queen. But what is she thinking when she smiles? Or even laughs.

My sense of inferiority tells me she’s scoffing at her humble subjects.

I like her. I don’t know her but I think she must have difficult things to do and duties none of us would take on. So that’s that out of the way.

But… I see her smile and feel awful about myself.

Is she thinking, ‘Hah, you scruffy little people. You’ve done your best but you still look deprived dear.’ Worse, when I see her with other family members, my feeling of being a creepy crawlie increases.

The image that inspired this was in The Evening Standard. The article told us how she was delegating tasks to other, younger family members.

She and Camilla and Charles (why can I use their first names and not hers? More echoes of my peasant roots…) were together seemingly sharing a hilarious joke (us?)

She mocks and laughs and has endless jokes about the lives we lead and our histories.

“My ‘Dad was a king. Top that!”
Hearty laughs.
“Did you know that those people” pointing to us from her balcony “call McDonalds a restaurant?”
Chortle chortle. (I’m with her on that one mind you…)
“Charles… Charlie…” catching her breath in between fits of laughter “I’ve just found out that lady blogger on WordPress has never had a book published. Ever. But” (suffocating on laughter “listen to this. She gives herself the title of writer!”

Collapses in heap on gold-buttoned chair and calls for butler to bring her something with a French name. “Canapés, petit fours, a baguette with jambon et fromage… Don’t mind…”

She reclines and wipes her eyes. She decides that everyone is to speak French for the rest of the day.

Makes her sound like a scornful character that has no understanding of ordinary people. I’m willing to put aside the fact that she got her position through mass murder, trickery and the sheer bossiness of her ancestors. I still like her.

We demote royals to pop snack names like ‘Wills and Kate’: we don’t do that to HRH.

Why? Because we fear being beheaded. Well I do. She is still the Queen.

These are my closing thoughts. Let’s keep our Queen stony faced. Serious, glum even. Let’s not urge her to smile, giggle or laugh. And especially not with other royals. We may think her sulky but the alternative is so much worse.

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A world full of princesses: the new feminism?

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Princess car stickers, princess T-shirts and baseball caps, princess lunchboxes, booster seats, luggage… Stop! We’re not all royals!

In Britain (how is it in the rest of the world?) parents douse their daughters in this sickly pink, totally false and irritating fantasy. Every month, some innovative manufacturer designs a new childhood accessory which can be ‘princessified’.

I have to ask why.

A few things strike me.

1.     Why don’t boys get the same treatment?

2.     What do parents have planned for their girls?

3.     If our Kate and William have a girl, will they have this paraphernalia?

I fear those parents might be raising the most self-centred, boorish people. After all, as laypeople, how do we perceive royalty? That they get everything they want. Is this how these glittery pink girls live?

Hoards of princesses now populate the UK. Will they all end up vying for power and kingdoms in their virtual world of monarchy? Millions of girls who’ve been brought up thinking they’re princesses because they’ve got a plastic tiara and some daft plastic shoes. (I wouldn’t have my daughter wearing those…) will one day have to make the transition from royalty to subject.

Something grates on me when I see a girl in a silly T-shirt claiming to be a princess. I want to know what’s behind it.

Is it simply attention-seeking? If so, who’s the attention for? Is it the latent wish of parents (maybe Mums more so, though I hate to point the finger) to dress up as a princess? Be treated as special?

Do parents hope their little one will get red carpet treatment? Is the subtext for this, ‘Please treat me nicely, I’ve been neglected all my life’? I suspect so. Or is it to show the world that if they have a special daughter, they too must be special (Kings and Queens, we assume…)

In fact I think they’re two sides of the same coin. The equation looks something like this: neglect as child = hunger for love in adulthood = craving for attention to substitute lack of real love (including through one’s own offspring) = lost and desperate buying of shiny, bright princess stuff for daughters… It’s just an educated guess.

It reminds me of Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules instilling in the orphans that they were loved, wanted, special: ‘Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.’

But I take it even further. What kind of philosophy does this teach girls? That they can only marry princes (rich guys) or that they’re too good for anyone! (Come on parents, time to get those ‘prince on board’ stickers on your car.)

I’m not a great one for banging on about women’s rights: people need right and that’s that. But I feel slightly frightened about what these boa-wearing, blinged-out, precocious girls will grow up believing about the world.

Is this a parent’s way of opting out of the whole issue?

I think some of it is rooted in the lack of time parents have for their children (boys and girls). So the princess culture is a sort of wholesale, easy, throwing all the elements of good parenting at their daughters in a feather-ridden, diamante, netting-flounced heap. There! Now be a good girl…

Well I’ll watch with interest as a generation of girls realise somewhere in their teens that

  1. there are millions of other princesses out there and
  2. a princess sticker doth not a princess make

If anyone needs royalty status, it’s boys today. My God! Surrounded by waves of these overblown, proud girls who are too good for everyone! Boys, better watch out!