As photos stream in of Queen Elizabeth II solemnly observing the funeral of her late husband Prince Philip in her first out-of-home appearance since Covid felled her in October, you might experience feelings of great melancholy. After a 74-year marriage amid a 70-year reign, doesn’t this great white pillar now seem so small, so lonely, and so fragile?
But fear not, for this little girl in her little pew has always been a solitary figure, wandering her 54 countries lonely as a cloud (that’s Wordsworth, another great Brit born in the early 1800s). It’s where she derives her power.
Look back through the platinum-lined career of Lilibet Sr. as she stands ickle and lonesome — but, like England herself under Churchill, unafraid.
Here she is just last week, trapped in computer by herself with no real means of escaping, smiling regally through it while talking to the ambassador of Morocco to the UK.
Last summer, solemn and stately, taking in the beautiful vistas of Scotland at the orange soda factory.
Acting like a man of the people in 2019, showing the British press pool that she too could shovel dirt like a common day laborer. She puts her back into it. She bends down alone.
There is no mild delight quite like going to an art museum by oneself.
No matter where you go, there you’ll be, my Queen.
In 2010, the great phallus of the UK National Memorial Arboretum attempted to intimidate, mitigate, and puncture the Queen’s strut. As you can see, it had nothing on her.
The Queen cut a figure at the Neue Wache war memorial in Berlin in 2004. The dress seems a bit garish for the occasion, no?
Tanks but no tanks, the Queen is seemingly saying. I’ll walk.
I do imagine it gets eerily quiet in the horse carriage, being hermetically sealed away from her footman and her adoring crowd. What does she think about? Pudding? Her loyal Commonwealth subjects in the Kingdom of Eswatini? A specific flavor of hard-to-find hummus at Waitrose? The war(s)?
Sometimes, you can be alone together. (Here, Liz is looking small and alone alongside President George HW Bush, who once threw up on Japanese Prime Minister Kichi Miyazawa’s lap and also started the Gulf War.)
Alone in a room full of people in Singapore in 1989. Chin chin to no one.
If you can’t find the queen, she’s wandering the grounds of Windsor Castle. It’s nothing to worry about. The landscape humbles her.
In Beijing (referred to as Peking in 1986), the queen just stood there for 45 minutes, smiling politely, dwarfed by the flags of her nation and its most favorite ally (cheeky wink).
Do you see her? The sun could scarcely find her in Mexico in 1983.
The optics of this are not that good, and she probably can’t hear a word anyone’s saying to her that high up. A metaphor.
A good trick if you’re alone at a party (or in Morocco in 1980, like the Queen here) is to pretend your phone is buzzing in your bag and you’re the only one that can hear it.
Can you be really alone when you’re with a corgi?
The Queen’s starter castle June 1933 when she was just seven. Always solitary. Always staid. Always England’s pride.