I knew we were going to get bad news about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when I noticed announcements on YouTube about her doctors advising that she be under medical supervision. Buckingham Palace never makes those kinds of announcements unless something big is about to happen. I soon found myself on Jesus Enrique Rosas’ YouTube channel, of all places. He was having a live stream, talking about Queen Elizabeth’s declining health. Some people in Britain commented that the Queen had already died sometime around 2:00pm, UK time, but they were waiting for all of the family members to arrive in Balmoral before making an official announcement.
How did they know? Some had mentioned that members of the press were wearing black ties. I hadn’t known until yesterday that the black ties were a sign. Apparently, the BBC had regularly rehearsed the announcement of the Queen’s inevitable death for years. I read somewhere that they rehearsed the procedure every six months, and always had black ties on hand for anchormen to don immediately, when they announcement finally came. Below is a video about the protocol that I stumbled across yesterday. It was made in 2017. And here’s an article by The Guardian written on the subject of protocol when “London Bridge falls”.
I shed a few tears yesterday when the news was confirmed that Queen Elizabeth had, in fact, crossed the bar at last. My earliest memories are of living in England, although I was not born there. We were living in England when the Queen had her Silver Jubilee in 1977, and my parents bought memorabilia from that event, which was always on display in our home. I always felt a kinship with Britain, and while a lot of Britons don’t care much for the monarchy, I have always been fascinated by it. I especially loved the fact that Queen Elizabeth II was such a big fan of horses and dogs. I have that in common with her.
Queen Elizabeth II has always struck me as a lovely person with a good sense of humor, warmth and consideration for other people, and a remarkable attitude toward service. Just a couple of days ago, she met Liz Truss, Britain’s brand new prime minister. Although this ceremony has historically taken place at Buckingham Palace, because the 96 year old queen had been in poor health and had mobility issues, Ms. Truss visited her at Balmoral, near Aberdeen, Scotland. There were photos of the event, which circulated widely, with the queen smiling and shaking the new prime minister’s hand while clutching a walking stick. Liz Truss is the 15th prime minister to meet the queen, and she is Britain’s third female prime minister. I almost get the sense that Her Majesty waited to do this one last duty before slipping off the mortal coil and meeting her beloved Prince Philip and the countless dogs and horses who predeceased her.
With the Queen’s passing, Britain now has a new King– Charles III– and a new Queen Consort, Camilla. Prince William and his wife, Catherine, have now become the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and Rothesay, in addition to Cambridge. They have inherited Cornwall and Rothesay from Charles and Camilla. I suspect that very soon, Prince William and his wife will also inherit the title of the Prince and Princess of Wales, although that isn’t a given, since that title isn’t one that passes automatically. Maybe I shouldn’t care about these things, since I’m an American. But, as I mentioned before, I spent a lot of time in Britain, and had it not been for my ancestors, I would be a Brit myself, based only on my overwhelmingly British DNA.
Prince Harry wasn’t able to get to Balmoral in time to say goodbye to his grandmother before she passed. He and Meghan have been in Europe on a speaking tour. They’d had plans in London, but obviously, those had to be canceled. Meghan is said to have stayed in London, which was no doubt the wisest thing to do, under the circumstances. I’m sure that in time, there will be a documentary about all that went down yesterday, and it will be interesting to see. For now, it just seems so surreal that Queen Elizabeth II is gone. She always reminded me so much of my own Granny, and I’ve always admired her for so many reasons– from her love of horses and dogs, to her colorful sense of fashion and style, to her sense of humor, to the way she always seemed to keep a stiff upper lip, no matter what. I’m glad for her that she was able to pass in the place where she reportedly felt most comfortable– in Scotland. I can’t blame her for feeling that way. Scotland is a wonderful place. It was especially fitting to see that there was a double rainbow over Buckingham Palace yesterday, just after the queen’s passing– even though she passed in Scotland, not London.
Queen Elizabeth II was not born to be a queen, but had that duty thrust upon her. She handled with with grace and sobriety, leading through so many eras during her incredible 70 years on the throne. No matter what one might think of the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II was an amazing woman who showed great fortitude in good times and bad. I will miss her for many reasons. She was a role model to me, even though I’m not one to follow role models very well. I hope she’s resting in peace, reunited with Prince Philip in paradise… but I realize that no one really knows what happens when death occurs. If she can’t be in Heaven with everyone she’s ever loved, animals included, I hope she at least enjoyed some beautiful hallucinations as she drifted away.
Something else was on my mind yesterday. Just before our walk yesterday, I noticed that the lymph nodes in Arran’s hind legs appeared to be enlarged. I felt them, and they are, in fact, swollen. We just passed our third anniversary of our sweet beagle, Zane’s, death from lymphoma. My first clue that Zane was so sick was noticing that he had swollen lymph nodes under his jaws and hearing him bark with hoarseness. Both Zane and Arran had suffered from mast cell tumors, and lymphoma is a known complication of that disease. We didn’t know Zane was so sick because we had been on vacation in Scotland, of all places, and lymphoma can be deadly very quickly. We lost Zane just one week after we found out about the cancer.
I do worry that Arran might also have lymphoma. He has a vet appointment today, because he’s been acting lethargic. However, unlike Zane, he seems to have improved since my initial concern, the swollen lymph nodes notwithstanding. He wanted to take a walk yesterday, and is eating well, if not a bit slowly. Just now, he went outside, drank some water, and parked himself behind my office chair. Hopefully, the swollen lymph nodes are not caused by cancer this time– especially since they so far seem confined to his popliteal nodes. The right one is noticeably larger than the left, rather than uniform, as they were with Zane. His eyes are bright, and his mast cell tumors have never affected him the way they did Zane. But, just as the queen was, our Arran is quite elderly at about 14 years old. Eventually, we will have to say goodbye to him, too.
One thing I have noticed is that ever since Arran encountered the resident hedgehog in our backyard, I have seen some fleas. Hedgehogs are notorious for having fleas, although the kind they have are breed specific and don’t infest household pets. However, hedgehog fleas do still bite, and Arran did have some blood work done recently that indicated a slightly low level of red blood cells. Perhaps that could be related to Arran’s current state. I gave both dogs baths yesterday, just to see if I saw any telltale evidence of an actual flea infestation. Unfortunately, having grown up in Virginia in the 80s with dogs, I have seen my fair share of the pesky little fuckers. But there weren’t any fleas, nor was there any evidence of “flea dirt” in the bath water. Arran is an old guy, though, so if fleas are biting him, that could conceivably affect his blood work. He doesn’t have the resilience he once had, when he was a young dog. I was worried about him being lethargic, and slow to eat, although he always does eat eventually. Anyway, we’ll see what the vet says. With any luck, we can get him back to feeling like his old self for awhile longer.
Bill comes back from his business trip today. It will be good to see him. I always miss him when he’s gone, but I especially missed him last night, as I heard the news about the beloved British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. It will be interesting to see how Charles carries on as King Charles. His reign is bound to be short, though. He probably won’t even make it to the Silver Jubilee that my parents attended all those years ago, when we lived in Britain. I wish Charles luck. I know a lot of people don’t like him because of what happened between him and Diana, but I’ve always thought of him as sort of a tortured soul. It’s been nice to see him obviously much happier with Camilla, who should have been his wife from the beginning. They are clearly soulmates. So I wish them both the best, as they have a huge undertaking, following the second longest reigning monarch of all time, and the longest reigning British monarch. I hope William is preparing, too… because I suspect it won’t be too long before he’s called upon to follow his father. He won’t be waiting 70 years; that is for certain.
One last thing… I am a child of the 70s and 80s, so I can’t help but remember an infamously rude 1986 era song by The Smiths about the monarchy. The song is called “The Queen is Dead”, and it’s definitely a song of antipathy. I have a feeling it may catch on in the coming weeks, as some people are already making tasteless jokes about the queen’s passing. While I don’t agree with the song’s sentiment toward the monarchy, I have to admit to liking The Smiths… this song included.