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Even stalwart Americans admired the queen

She is gone. It is as though the last thread holding the world together, dating back to my childhood, has disappeared.

Queen Elizabeth was mourned, celebrated, and lovingly buried as I wrote this – glued all morning to PBS’ full coverage. I stumbled into the den at 5:20 a.m. and turned off the final views at 12:09 p.m.

I know, I’m a little weird, but there is a good reason. I have been captivated by Her Royal Highness since I was nine or ten years old.

Marion Crawford was the governess of the two daughters of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (who became the Queen Mother). After “Crawfie,” as the little girls called her, left the palace employ, she wrote the story of her 16 years of service in a tell-all book, The Little Princesses. I spent lots of time in the library in those days, and just happened to be at the desk as they were entering the new book into their card catalogue.

Being the first person to check out the small red book. I think I read it two or three times before my two weeks were up. Not that the 2-cents-a-day fine ever kept me from finishing or rereading something important. And those princesses were important. The library probably thought they owned the book, but as often as I could legally check it out, it was beside my bed, not in the biography section.

Totally enraptured by their lives, I began my lifelong love affair with every story and picture of the little princesses that I could find. As they grew, my focus went to Elizabeth. She was the strong one, the responsible one. And only child that I was, Elizabeth actually became a role model for me. My mom worked two jobs, and I was surrounded by an all-boy neighborhood of rowdy heathens. I needed a girl to look up to. In The Little Princesses, I found her.

The younger princess, Margaret, was probably the fun one, but I craved a good big sister.

I kept a diary that included excerpts from “THE book.” And I cut out so many pictures from magazines that I had to create a scrapbook.

So, when my son called the night after Elizabeth passed, he asked how I was. “I’m fine,” I said. “Just very sad.” When he asked what I could be sad about, I told him, “My queen has died.”

“Mom, she is not YOUR queen. Don’t be ridiculous.” And then I told him about why she was so important to me, and my lifelong admiration of all things Elizabeth.

Certainly, the pomp and circumstance was part of the attraction. There wasn’t much beauty in my immediate surroundings then, let alone anything as exquisitely beautiful as all things royal manage to be. I watched the queen’s coronation on television. I watched Margaret’s wedding, and those of Charles and Diana, Prince William and Katherine, and Harry and Meghan – lavish rituals all.

A few friends joined me for the 5 a.m. nuptials of William and Kate. We wore hats, pearls and white gloves and enjoyed tea and scones for our wedding breakfast. These women also knew, from a young age, of the queen’s devotion to duty, her kindness, her strength in times of dreadful circumstances.

When Elizabeth became queen, even before her coronation, she made the oath that, “… my whole life, whether it be long or short, will be devoted to your service …” Rarely has any promise been kept with such steadfast dedication.

We devoted royal followers of a “certain age” know that she gave up the fun and freedoms that we enjoyed in our younger years. I can’t even imagine 70 years of getting dressed up, coiffed and made-up every day for the endless parade of royal duties she performed: Ribbon cuttings, charitable events, state ceremonies, and mega-thousands of handshakes all while spending hours on her feet. And every day except Christmas and Easter, no matter where she is, she receives the infamous red boxes. The boxes contain important documents from her Cabinet,

Foreign, and Commonwealth offices – some just briefings, many requiring her signature. Duty, duty, and more duty. Romping with her corgis doesn’t sound like a trade for a carefree weekend maybe filled with water-skiing, margaritas, and dancing.

And so today, the stiff-upper-lip Brits cried as they curtsied, bowed, and buried their beloved queen, with all the respect and admiration a nation can give. No, not all Brits are Monarchists. But the prevailing attitude was one of losing their beloved Grandmother. While some of us remember a younger Elizabeth, to anyone under 40 she’s their gracious Granny, and the only monarch most have ever known.

The pageantry was magnificent. The honors were appropriate. The tears were real.

My queen is dead. Long live the King.

Marcy O’Brien can be reached at Moby.32@hotmail.com.

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