I’ve shaken hands with Royalty, and it was no big deal. The woman I was with at the time – an Anglophile who had been married in Westminster – informed me I should feel special. I didn’t, even though Prince Charles had sought me out to shake my hand, and not vice versa. [Editor: absolutely true story.] What, I wondered, should I feel special about? He certainly seemed nice enough, no doubt, maybe a bit peculiar looking the way old money can be, but, had I not known who he was, that knowledge freighting the encounter with a myriad of social, class and political assumptions, he would have been just another middle aged guy exchanging social pleasantries. He spoke to me briefly, idle chat about the Shakespearean production we’d just seen, and then he was whisked away in his Aston Martin. Must be Nice, I thought.
As a good American, I’ve never understood the public fascination with Royalty. It’s a great gig if you can get it, I guess: live in a castle on the government’s dime, your solemn face on the local currency. Have parades in your honor, squat at the Ritz in Paris, meet with important and influential people, all of them deferring to you. Snap your fingers and people instantly appear and cater to your every whim. And you don’t have to work, even though hardworking British taxpayers will subsidize your family to the tune of $50 million pounds a year. When you strip away the pageantry, it seems little more than a monumentally obscene public-assistance program to one family of inbred layabouts. Makes me wonder about the Brits.
Not that we’re any better. America is a nation of rapaciously selfish, vacuous, violent and ignorant people who think they, as Americans, can do as they want because, when you get down to it, the reality is that God wants it that way. Go to any Donald Trump rally and you will be gobstruck by the complete lunacy of a large portion of our citizenry. Even so, we Americans possess the dignity of free idiots, beholden to no one but our capitalist overlords, able to indulge our endless stupidities without the need to subsidize a Royal Family to legitimate it all. We are above such nonsense.
In their defense, the current generation of Royals – Princes William and Harry – seem stand-up guys, both having served their time on the front with the British military, which is more than I can say of the plutocrats who send American kids off to war for a variety of crazy reasons. With the exception of a few principled Democrats, their kids stay home while average American kids go to be maimed and die doing the country’s dirty work.
But I digress.
That’s the Queen, above, Prince Charles’ “Mum,” with a beautiful Leica M3 and Summicron. She is, apparently, an avid photographer. For all the useless photographs we have of her, it’s interesting to see the Queen on the other side of a lens – in this instance a 50mm f2 rigid Summicron fastened to her beloved Leica M3. Leitz Wetzlar gave her this particular model, specially engraved, in 1958.
In 1986, when asked to choose a stamp image to commemorate her 60th birthday, she chose a picture of her with her Leica M3, which is sort of weird, if you think about it, unless, of course, the Queen is a hard-core Leicaphile. If so, I’d be interested in knowing why, way back then, she preferred the M3 to an M2 or even a IIIg. Does she still have her M3? Was she ever tempted to trade it in for a newfangled M5 in those crazy 70’s? Still shoot film? And what, pray tell, does she think of this whole new digital thing? Now that, and not some idle chitchat about the latest stuffy production of some long dead playwright, would be an interesting topic of conversation, one I’d be happy to engage in were she to approach me. In any event, I’m not sure what she’s shooting now, but whatever it is, she probably didn’t pay for it.
It is a very strange set-up, but in a weird sort of way it works. I agree that the establishment media (especially the BBC) fawns over the royals, and this is less apparent in other European kingdoms, although saying that, a Dutch blogger has just been sent to gaol for slandering their king.
The important thing though, is that it is a cheap way to pay lip service to the traditional trappings of statehood, that of ceremony and opening supermarkets, or meeting foreign heads of state. Certainly it knocks the election of a “state president” every 5-10 years into a cocked hat for value for money.
If I were able to pick though, I would want to see a Swiss style system… In that place, the people elect a government made up of qualified politicians every seven years, the leaders of the parties, which are in permanent coalition take it in turns to be president. Four times a year, they have “referendum days”, and this is when the government is told by the people what to do.
I appreciate that the people of the USA do neither of the above, their head of state also leads the executive… Even though there is much evidence to suggest that if he/she steps off of the well trodden path, that there will not be ‘consequences’…
President JF Kennedy comes to mind here, he wanted to challenge the money system and died.
BTW: I would not be too quick to judge Trump, he might well turn out to be a good choice, the establishment is definitely in need of a challenge from the people that pay for it, and Trump is definitely not from the establishment… You can tell from the way he is being treated by its cohorts.
I have no idea, what camera ‘Her Lizardness’ uses today, but she is not known for being a big spender, I suspect it is a combination of her M3 and an iPhone.
the colorphoto of the Queen (reversed image?)
Interesting. For all we know, Leitz built her an M3 backwards. She is the Queen, remember.
It works very well, thank you. For the population.
Far from seeing it as some life of freebies, I see it as a prison sentence without hope of honourable early release. Imagine waking up every day with that shadow of obligation hanging over you right from the start, and until the day that you die. And even then they won’t let go of you. My idea of hell. Far better to be independently rich and able to swan off at any time you please. I imagine that thought is not a stranger to any of them, and I’m sure they have the means.
But then it’s about that old-fashioned thing called duty, a concept too far for so many.
Better just comfortable than Royal but chained.
I lived in UK for about two years; although I was there as part of my military duty, I always made an effort to dwell among the locals whenever I lived abroad. In UK, by virtue of the fact there was no language gap, I was able to do it fairly easily. While the Royals do command a lot of attention- as well as generating some foolishness in the press- I was always impressed with the unifying force they represented for the British people. The Queen, say what you will, is a very elegant woman. I can see no harm in having such a person in front of the people…………..This is not to mention the stability represented.
I guess she is kind of like a Leica M3.
As individuals, many members of the Royal family do not seem to have much opportunity to use their apparent wealth for personal gain. Many of them also actively support worthwhile charities and similar organisations at the cost of a life spent in public scrutiny with little or no privacy. Since they were born into that role, they do not really have a choice and have to be careful about their public image and behaviour. Their lifestyle may seem glamorous, but I do not envy them for that.
I seem to recall that Leica UK gave or planned to give HM The Queen a Leica M6 as a gift many years ago. Perhaps Leica’s marketing department can confirm that.
The colour photo of the Queen with an M3 is reversed, as the viewfinder is on the left (as in the black and white photo below), not the right.
Are you aware that, at the time of writing, our Queen is 90 and still working? Prince Phillip is 95 and still carrying out engagements. Prince William is a search and rescue helicopter pilot. As top public figures, the security around them must feel oppressive. However, please bear in mind that they will be top of the hate list for Muslim Fundamentalist Terrorists. Lord Louis Mountbatten was blown up in his boat in Ireland by Irish Republican Terrorists in 1979. A loony broke into Buckingham Palace a few years later and found the Queens bedroom. He sat on her bed until she woke up. Do we live like this? No.