The first time I remember someone in my family circle mentioned the Queen, I must have been around 5. My mother scolded me for complaining about the dinner served not being warm enough. Who do you think you are – England ki maharani? she said teasingly. And perhaps that set the stage in my mind, for what being a Queen meant. Someone who had the final say on almost everything. As I grew older, I saw more of the Queen in popular culture – in school history lessons, in Bollywood period movies as the ultimate villain, and more recently, in the Netflix series The Crown as a woman of power, position and even occasional vulnerability.
And so when the Queen of England, someone who managed to hold on to the Crown and public eye for 70 long years, dies, it obviously becomes a much talked about event across the globe. And that’s what they’re all talking about – the death of the British Queen Elizabeth, tributes flowing in from across the world – from celebrities to political leaders to next-door-naaris like me. Pictures of the royal family at the funeral. Every second person’s Instagram story features a picture of her. Google search is blowing up with queries ranging from what would happen to the Queen’s beloved dogs to her favourite foods. Queen Elizabeth and her life, very recently have become a matter of national and global interest.
This entire activity has found its own level of hatred as well. People calling out other people for mourning the death of the monarch (at least on social media), because technically, the British did colonise us for a 100 years (with many to point out that the Queen never really apologised during her 70 year reign). Some ask for the Kohinoor to be returned to India. And yet some others, talk about how their grandparents who saw the British Raj first hand, would be turning in their graves to see the future generations pay homage to the very representation of the 200-year rule.
Not that I completely disagree with their logic. As third-generation Indians living in a free country, many of us still have grandparents who remember British India, and the atrocities that came with it. So it’s only natural, in my opinion, to have mixed feelings about appreciating even the smallest things about the British Rule. But then, what also holds true is that the only thing you can do about history is to reflect and learn from it; because you cannot change it.
While you may not want to celebrate (or mourn, in this case) the British monarchy, perhaps we can for once, leave aside the Queen with her official title. and see her for the woman she was. And the multiple roles she played during her life spanning over seven decades?
Born into the Royal family, she was entitled to the material and social privileges that a life of royalty brought along with it, but she was never expected to become Queen. With her father being the younger son. And then all of a sudden at 25, mostly by sheer accident, she was required to step up and take charge of the entire country. Not an easy task. Especially in a country like Britain, which takes its monarchy and (everything royal) rather seriously. In Britain, the Queen isn’t just the nominal head-of-state, she’s the face of the nation on the global stage. And almost always in public scrutiny, judged and critiqued even more because she’s a woman in a position of power previously held by men.
All when she was a few years into her marriage, and a rather young mother. Of course, this might even be normal today, but in 1926 (when Elizabeth was crowned Queen), there were few women leaders, let alone ruling Queens. And I do think the monarch deserves a round of applause for the position she held during her lifetime, with dignity, poise and confidence. It wasn’t an easy job, being a royal (in case you remember Oprah’s interview with Harry & Meghan), but she did it in a rather exemplary manner. Right from the way she proudly flaunted her love for bright colours, and corgi dogs, and horses, to being well present in office right till she was 95 years of age.
Woman to woman, irrespective of how we feel about the British Rule and paying tribute to the Queen on her death, I do think we can all take a step back, put our political ideologies aside and perhaps just admire the Queen for the Boss Naari that she was. Before women leaders made their presence felt in boardrooms and corner offices, she captured the world’s attention on the throne. Who truly made us believe that Queens didn’t just have to be wives of Kings. They could be individuals in their own right, and build and rule their own Empires. And that said, rest in peace, my Queen.
Open up like never before and participate in conversations about beauty, entrepreneurship, mental health, menstrual & sexual health, and more. Desi women, join our community NOW!