The Queen

Pre-note: please take time to review September 6 post here.

Queen Elizabeth II died yesterday at age 96.  Only France’s Louis XIV, who became King at age four, had a longer reign.

I won’t horn in on others territory – the news will be endless.  The Queen was an individual.  Like all of us, she was human.  For all of us, life has a destination.  Of course, she was born on third base, as the saying goes – almost a home run.  But she seemed a very decent human being.

The Queen set a wonderful positive tone for her country for the entirety of her very long reign.  Yes, she’s the matriarch of a family.  All of us know that “family” however defined, is not always a slam dunk.

The most significant statement I’ve heard so far is the importance of the relationship of England and the United States.  It seems a useful reminder to Putin, that a nation that declared its independence does not have to be a permanent enemy….  There were a great plenty of sins committed in the name of the British Empire.  Queen Elizabeth was not the cause.  But the debate will continue.

The above are my only political statements at this time of transition.


Elizabeth II is already replaced by her son, Charles III, who inherits an impossible job.  The only more or less equivalent to Elizabeth that I know of is the Catholic Pope, who is always elected, not by the people but by his peers, the College of Cardinals.  Of course, I think the British monarch is the “Pope” of the Church of England….

Is the Royal family “German”?  This is what I found out – it seems credible.  It seems the answer is very complicated….  If you have a better source, let me know.

I’m German and French-Canadian by ancestry.  I was born American, and I speak English.  The official languages of Canada are French AND English, an important accommodation made when the English prevailed over France in Quebec, sealed in 1763. I have lots of relatives north of the border. Till 1763, what is now Minnesota was part of French Quebec, you can look it up.  In 1818, the U.S.-Canada border was settled.  North of the border is the Dominion of Canada, still part of the Commonwealth.

(What is the “Commonwealth”?  I found a website that does a pretty good job on who is in the Commonwealth.)

In early November, 2001, we spent a delightful week or so in London, so had a once over of a friendly city, particularly in the wake of 9-11-01.  We saw the sights, including the tourists eye view of Buckingham Palace.  When we were by Buckingham Palace, there few people around.  We were walking distance from most everything else.

Our tour guide in London was a lady I had met in 1982 in Quebec, when my father and I and four others went to la belle province.  Visitor-from-England Mary joined us for a couple of days.

Mary, it turned out, was the daughter of a well known judge at one of the most famous courts in London, Old Bailey.  The Judge, it turned out, had been captain of the debating team at Cambridge, and he and two colleagues debated at 31 midwest and western U.S. universities in the Fall of 1927, including the University of North Dakota and then-North Dakota Agricultural College.  I had an opportunity to meet and visit with him, and still have a copy of his diary from the tour.  He remembered North Dakota!

The fingerprints of England are all over the U.S.  Sykeston ND, one of the many tiny towns I grew up in, was founded in 1883 by Richard Sykes, a wealthy Englishman, who founded other towns in ND and Saskatchewan.

A delightful English couple in California, Tony and Heather, owned for many years my Grandfathers 1901 Oldsmobile, and in 2001 we were in the double-decker bus following the route of the famous London-Brighton road rally, in which Tony had driven the little car some years earlier.

Along the way, connected with one of my websites, I met a Syrian Christian who has lived in London for many years, and we stay in touch. More recently a Pakistan civic official who got his administrative and legal training in England worked with me on a project when he was here on a Fulbright program.  The results are here.

My spouse’s dearest long-time friend, Allyson, grew up in Antigua, part of the Commonwealth, and has relatives who were and are in government service there…and whose ancestors came there as slaves.  My guess is Allyson is grieving like the others.

Most recently, my colleague Mary Ellen Weller has just published a biography of Anne Frances Hopkins, English artist, whose claim to fame came from her paintings of the Voyageurs in early Quebec, then Canada.  The book is worth your time.


All of these, and endless other connections, reflect the good and not always pleasant and past reality: “the sun never sets on the British empire”.

Stories abound.  The Queen, and now her son, the King, get the attention, but as is true always and everywhere, it is the people who really make the difference.

Elizabeth deserves the accolades.  Like all of us, her time to bid adieu has come.

I wish all well.

COMMENTS (see also comment at end of post.  I will respond later):

from a long time good friend: I have some very mixed feelings about the Queen and her country.
1. I was 12 when she took over the throne.  She was so sweet, innocent and timid, and I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for her.
2. The foundation of the so-called royalty is some horrible person leading an army invading and taking over some territory and proclaiming himself King.  Not genetically superior to anyone else but driven by greed and lacking morality.  Further, during a construction project in England, the remains of King Richard the 3rd were discovered.  He was the last British King to be killed in battle.  His DNA didn’t trace back to his so-called royal lineage, so his father was someone like a stable boy, the butler, or some other worker.  Further yet, the kings, princes, or princesses choose to mary someone that may have no connection to any so-called royal family.  So, in summary, the notion of royalty is a sham.
3. The British are some of the most horrible peoples on the earth.  At one time, they had invaded about 45% of the earth’s lands, occupying the region and slaughtering the inhabitants or enslaving them and robbing them of their wealth.  Somewhere around 1700 a British ship was entering port, loaded with wealth that they had stolen during some invasion.  This was pretty common, and a group of other sailors decided to attack the ship and steel the wealth for themselves.  They were called pirates.  We were brought up to believe that the pirates were very bad people.  Were they the bad guys or were the scumbags that had invaded some country, slaughtered, or enslaved the inhabitants and stolen their wealth the bad guys.  Hypocrisy has been a mainstay of British society.  And then there was Churchill that you educated me about.  Such a scumbag that no one would ever believe anything he said.  As Laurance of Arabia was soliciting support of the Arabic world to join the WW 1 allies is their battle with the Ottoman Empire and many parts of Europe, with the promise that they would have their freedom if they helped win the war, you pointed out to me the Sykes-Picot agreement to divide up the Ottoman Empire between the British and France with no freedom for the Arabic world, and no consideration for ethnic groups like the Kurds who have been divided and persecuted since then.  After the war, General Faisal, who led the Arabic army decided that the capital of the new free Arabic world would be in Damascus.  When he was informed that there would be not free Arabic world, he rebelled and the response from Churchill was the gassing of Damascus, killing around 60,000 people, most of which were women and children.
Enough for now.  Just wish that the USA would do a better job of selecting its allies.

from Christine: It is an easy way of thinking to judge the past and responsibilities  with todays values and habits. But I think it is always wrong.

I have never seen you, Dick, fall into that perverse sort of judgments and that makes us friends.
However, It has become common, nowadays for many head of States to apologize for the past. We are not responsible for what our parents have achieved, good or bad and we will never know for sure their motivations. The past is past.
Only a few causes which are still being persecuted today deserve a judgment on my view from the past actions as well as today’s ones: antisemitism or anti any religion. This is the black side of humanity which led to atrocities and still is.
About persecutions from the Americas conquerors, historians keep discovering facts or books distorting the truth we thought was accepted. I think of the “Black legend” written on purpose by the English to accuse the Spanish of committing genocides in Latin America, when the tribes of that time where killing each other with an unknown cruelty much more than by the Spanish who tried to pacify those peiples. This has actually opened the path to the Conquistadores to expand their influence and their territory. I am not saying they were perfect gentlemen. I am only saying that history is history and we need to be very cautious about judgments of the past.
Thank you Dick for always push your readers ( me) to reflections.
To get back to the main subject, Queen Elizabeth was much loved and respected over her reign. Who knows what can be her responsibility over a black side of history over her 70 years reign….. our descendants may have different views from ours….