My dog Lucy died a week ago Monday. I wept. Queen Elizabeth II died three days later. I didn’t shed a tear. Still, I feel a bond between our grieving family and the grieving royal family.
Grief is grief. Death is death. Love is love.
Lucy was laid to rest in a hand-dug grave under a tree at the head of our nature trail. Elizabeth will be laid to rest in a gilded casket at Windsor Castle. Whose life was more precious, more fated? According to the ancient Hebrew sage, neither.
The fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same. As one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath. Humans have no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place, all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ecclesiastes 3.19-21
(I don’t expect that verse to be read at Her Majesty’s funeral.)
I’ve been watching the British spectacle sporadically. I’ll probably watch the funeral. I disdain monarchy, but I’ve been enthralled—and equally appalled—by the pomp and circumstances and ostentatious wealth.
What a show!
Herald trumpets sporting banners, town criers with scrolls, 18th-century uniforms and plumes, Holyrood Castle, St. Giles’ Cathedral, the Company of Archers, the archbishop of Canterbury, the Household Mounted Cavalry Regiment, the Garter King of Arms (hip, hip, hooray), the royals in fresh resplendence at every event, Westminster Abbey, choirs, incense, bells, bells, and more bells.
No one does pageantry like the Brits.
And, of course, no one does inquisitions like the Spanish, or coups like Americans.
(I jest, but not really.)
We dodged an attempted coup right on our door steps. It wasn’t defeated. It retreated. It’s biding its time.
The Brits say, God save the king. Americans must now say, God save the people.
God save the people from ignorance. God save the people from apathy. God save the people from despair. God save the people from tyranny.
Except God doesn’t do that.
We must save ourselves. We must muster the wisdom, the will, and the way to save ourselves before fascism destroys our “sweet land of liberty.”
When the Brits sing their monarchical hymn, “God Save the King,” we recognize the tune. It’s the tune that carries an American democratic anthem, which more than ever needs to be sung with our whole hearts.
Let freedom ring!