Her Majesty Was a Pretty Nice Girl

The end of the modern Elizabethan Age

Her Majesty Was a Pretty Nice Girl

I knew something was amiss on the morning of September 9 because the BBC logo on my Facebook feed showed a black background with white letters rather than the usual red background in its logo. The formal announcement of Queen Elizabeth’s death came only a few hours later.

Since then, many Canadians, including a monarchy sceptic like me, grieved for her and, in our own way, thanked her for her 70 years of service to the UK, Canada, and the world as Queen. Living all my 66 years with a Queen, (and having learned to sing God Save the Queen before Oh Canada), a King in 2022 takes a bit of getting used to for everyone, even the BBC. While listening to the BBC World Service (as I do), even the announcers stumbled over the new King’s name on the day the Queen died, calling him “Prince Charles the Third” more than once.

Those of us with QC’s had to be reminded by the Law Society that Section 21 of the Interpretation Act automatically made us all KC’s without further pomp or circumstance, and our QC’s are now KC’s, as if we were never QC’s at all. I wondered why I couldn’t remain QC for a little while longer, in homage to Elizabeth II, but apparently, the designation obliges us, if called upon, to provide advice to the sovereign; whoever he or she may be. As it’s profoundly difficult to provide legal advice to a much-loved Queen who has died, a KC it is. But even that takes a bit of getting used to. One former QC (now KC) expressed her confusion with the automatic changeover and tongue-tripped with the designation, calling it a KFC. Another lawyer jokingly asked me if I was going to form a musical ensemble called “KC and the Sunshine Band.”

I first met the Queen, from afar, in Victoria in 1971. There was a cottage industry of Centennial celebrations in the 60s and 70s, and 1971 was the Centenary of BC entering Confederation. My parents (being arch monarchists), took us everywhere to see the Queen, so we saw her getting on and off the Royal Yacht Britannia when it was docked in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. But my fondest encounter was when she did an extended walkabout near the BC Provincial Museum (as it then was called). My Junior High School band was tasked with playing music for the Queen and her entourage. Perhaps 30 feet from where we were playing, as the Queen strolled through the crowds, the wind picked up, and my sheet music was blown near enough to the Queen that she watched it sail uncomfortably close to her hat. Then she glanced directly at me, as if to say: “that was you, wasn’t it?”

The Brits seem to have better luck with their Kings and Queens than they do with their prime ministers. The buffoonish Boris Johnson was pushed out in the summer, only to be replaced by Liz Truss, who was Prime Minister for a whole 45 days. Her “mini-budget,” provided unfunded tax cuts to the wealthy and caused the Pound to plummet. The tax cuts were thrown out, along with her other ideologically driven policies, into the dustbin of history. Shortly afterwards, the Daily Star ran a competition as to who would last longer — Liz Truss or a head of lettuce. The lettuce won after only six days. A short tenure for a politician is now called “Trussian.”

Despite our collective love for the Queen, Canadians may soon re-evaluate our attachment to the British Monarchy, just like the Law Society did in the 1990s when the Benchers removed allegiance to Queen Elizabeth and her Heirs and Successors from the Barrister’s Oath. Some Quebec MNA’s have refused to take an oath to the new King, and I expect more than a few parliamentarians and public officials in other Canadian jurisdictions may raise the same issue, citing, among other things, that politically charged word “colonialism.”

But until things change, all I’ll say for the moment is “God save the King.”

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