Tuesday, May 01, 2007


In June of 1994 Cha and I were on a bus from Heathrow Airport into London on our honeymoon. On a long flat highway amongst green pastures we cruised along, the driver occasionally pointing things out and discussing them. Then an absurd fairy tail automobile appeared coming toward us in the right lane, a confection of glass, wood, and polished metal. Seated inside in an elevated rear compartment was a hat the size of an extra-large New York pie, drooped at a saucy angle. The Princess of Wales without escort, without fanfare. She passed within two meters of me, her seat somehow as high as mine in that carriage of hers. The bus driver murmured something about the Princess of Wales not bothering to wave at us after he waved at her. "At the least her driver could acknowledge one of his own," he said.

I never much bought into the fascination with the monarchy, but had friends who went NUTS over the Diana/Charles wedding and subsequent scandals. All of that seems rather quaint now, given the tragedies to follow. It's also hard to think of Diana's death without the maudlin grotesquerie of Elton John's "Goodbye England's Rose," which thousands of ghouls lined up to purchase at the bookshop.

Helen Mirren rules, and I'm glad she finally got recognition. She is a one of my very favorite actors, and nails Elizabeth in this charming soap opera. Almost as good is Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. Sheen perfectly captures the unctuous Labour PM with uncanny political instincts. Again, it's hard to remember how energetic and fresh Blair seemed when he took over English governance from the wintry John Major. Now he's just another hack, a Bush toady, and he's gone in a few weeks.

The Queen is slight, and could easily have wandered off into made-for-TV-movie territory. The actors give it substance, however. I recommend it.

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