A good friend alerted me to an interesting tidbit about Cunard Lines which owns and operates the most famous luxury liners in the world. Cunard vessels include the Queen Elizabeth 2 ( built 1969) and the Queen Mary 2 ( built 2003) and , since 1930, it has been the tradition to invite the reigning British Queen to preside over the launch of a new vessel. However, in announcing the launch of their latest vessel, Queen Victoria, Cunard ,in a surprising break with tradition, has asked Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to do the honors.
A Royal source was quoted as saying “It is fair to say that the Queen was slightly surprised, given the history of the Cunard naming process, and particularly since she is such an admirer of her great-great-grandmother.” Transalation: The Queen is miffed.
I,on the other hand, am happy with this break in tradition. I have always felt that Camilla was unfairly blamed for the break-up of Charles’s marriage to Diana. Even a couple of years ago, when Charles and Camilla married, Camilla was the butt of many unkind comments and jokes. Throughout it all, she carried herself with dignity and it is good to see that Britons are now warming up to her.
I wonder also if it is a sign of the British public’s growing disaffection with the Queen.To me she seems a thoroughly unlikable woman – cold, distant,haughty,miserly and not particularly intelligent. Very different from her parents. Her father ,King George VI, showed real courage and character and was a source of comfort and pride to his countrymen in the dark days during WW II. Her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, was a fitting consort to her husband and a fun-loving character, the beloved Queen Mum.
Elizabeth II has been Queen of England for the past 54 years and seems determined to hang in there until she supplants Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest reigning monarch. In the meantime , Charles is close to 60 and will be an elderly man by the time he’s crowned King, if he is crowned King. Some doubt that he will and that the Crown will pass directly to his son, Prince William.
Ah, well. It doesn’t much matter anyway since the British monarch is a ceremonial figurehead without any real power. The wonder is that the monarchy has survived so long in Britain. But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Round about 1950, King Farouk of Egypt predicted that at some point in the future” There will be only five kings in the world… the King of Spades, the King of Hearts , the King of Diamonds, the King of Clubs and the King of England.” We haven’t quite reached that point yet but the list of monarchs grows shorter and shorter. Off hand I can only think of a handful of other monarchies today…. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Netherlands, Spain.
As for Farouk, two or three years later he was deposed by Gamal Abdel Nasser and Egypt became a democracy.