Today was a rather ordinary day, woke up, showered, had breakfast, met the Queen of England, did some reading for my English Literature class etc. Okay, so I know what you’re thinking, “why is Chloe taking an English Literature course if she is studying political science at the London School of Economics?!”
Well that is a great question, how perceptive of you, I thin—wait, you’re asking about the thing I mentioned before that? The whole meeting the Queen of England (and all the other commonwealth realms i.e. Canada, Australia, the rest of the U.K. etc., but that doesn’t really have the same flair) part? Oh, well…you know….it’s not really that big of a deal—okay fine, if you insist, I’ll tell you the story. I spent this past weekend at the Cumberland Lodge with a group of students from LSE. Oh, hold on…
HiSTORY TIME WITH CHLOE!
What does Colin Firth and Smokey the Bear have in common?
A little bit of history for you, the Cumberland Lodge is a country house that was built inside the walls of Windsor Great Park in 1650 that was to be occupied by the Park Ranger. Now when I was told “Park Ranger,” I was imagining some guy who walks around in khaki and is best friends with Smokey the Bear. However, this is England, and their “Park Ranger” is usually a member of the royal family. Their main duty is to make sure other people are taking proper care of the park (HAH!). Anyway, in 1947, King George VI (aka Collin Firth in The King’s Speech) bestowed the lodge to the St. Katherine’s Foundation. This decision stemmed from the perceived lack of independent thinking of the young German students during World War II who were inculcated with Nazism. The residence was provided as a place for young people to come, take part in discussions, and hold conferences in the hopes of the cultivating a more critical society.
Okay, so now that you understand where I was and what I was doing, back to the story. Being that the Lodge is inside Windsor Great Park, we were considered temporary residents of the Park, making us eligible to attend Sunday morning services at the Royal Chapel. There were rumblings that the Queen may be in attendance at services, but being that she is, well the Queen, everything surrounding her is enigmatic.
So Sunday morning I arrived at the Royal Chapel (only after being subjected to a background check by Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization—yeah, so intense) with the hopes of catching a glimpse of Her Majesty. The Royal Chapel was a beautiful old church nestled in the English countryside, the stuff of fairy tales, princes, castles, Queens, oh wait, sorry not there yet!
I expected that once I got to the chapel I would know whether or not the Queen was in attendance. However, my girl Lizzy (aka Queen Elizabeth II) does not sit in the pews with the commoners. In fact, she doesn’t even just sit in her own sectioned off area, but she watches the service from her own small chamber FROM BEHIND A CURTAIN. So throughout the service neither I nor anybody else was sure if the Queen was among us. When the service ended with no sight of the Queen Bee, I was sure that my opportunity had passed and there would be no Queen-sighting for me.
Slightly dejected, I ambled out of the chapel following behind a line of churchgoers. I was trying to rejuvenate my spirits, I mean it probably was a bit much to hope to meet the most renowned monarch in the world. But just when I began to rework a new plan for meeting Prince Harry and marrying into the Royal family, this beaming blue figure caught my eye—and it walking my way! It was THE QUEEN wearing a bright blue jacket-skirt ensemble with a matching hat a mere 10 feet from me.
I guess this may be her iconic outfit?
I felt my feet become heavy in ground. Each step I took required a conscious effort. I slowly marched forward until I came face to face with Her Majesty. I tried to recall all the rules of acknowledging the Queen.
1. Don’t address the Queen unless she speaks to you first
2. Don’t do a full on bow, but a slow head bow would suffice
3. Don’t sustain eye contact for too long (or was it no eye-contact?)
But the closer I got to Her, the rules began to fade away as her regal presence took control of my bodily motions. She nodded her head and said, “Good day.” I responded with a mere a parrot of her actions, “Good day.” Except I exaggerated the head bow and a wide grin swept across my face. Completely content that I had even exchanged words with her, I was just about to continue walking (not wanting to overstay my greeting) when she began moving closer towards me (!!!!!) and asked, “Where is your group from?” I was careful to articulate each word perfectly and even tried to add some cadence to the response, “We are students at the London School of Economics.” The words seemed to hang in the air, every moment felt interminable as I awaited her response. Was she going to respond? Should I keep walking? Did I do something wrong? Then a slow smile swept across her face as she looked up at me and said, “Oh, well that’s a good place to be!” A smile snuck onto my face and I let out a small laugh (what a Queen response!) then said, “Why thank you! I am really enjoying my time there.” Then she nodded her head and turned to the person beside us waiting to talk to her. I smiled and gave her one final head bow. Then I took five steps forward and stopped, the weight of the experience began to settle in. I had just had a conversation with Her Majesty the Queen. Damn.
I apologize for the delay in updates. I had written this post on Sunday, but hadn’t had the chance to edit and put it up. I couldn’t just botch my post about the Queen. (<–WOW cool Q!)