This blessed plot, this earth, this realm…

I’m a native of the state whose “tea party” spawned the American revolution, a second generation Italian-American firmly planted in US soil. If you’ve read my posts, you know how much being Italian means to me. Beyond my birthright, I’m a francophile and an anglophile. And in the latter capacity, I confess to being a bit of a monarchist.

It all started when my parents gave me a View-Master, with a packet of disks on which were mounted a series of tiny color transparencies. When you inserted the disk and pulled the side lever down, the disk would rotate to reveal another magnified image. To a tiny child in the early 1950s, this seemed like pure magic. Among my first View-Master disks were Gene Autry and his horse Champion, Snow White, and my very favorite, the most fascinating, opulent, and downright other-worldly, the Coronation of Elizabeth II.

The crown, the jewels, the robes, the gilded carriage, the abbey, the splendor, the antiquity… what child wouldn’t be entranced? With the same intense interest that little boys develop over baseball cards, I followed the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and Princess Anne, and later the births of Andrew and Edward, on the pages of Life and Look, in television news reports, in movie theatre newsreels. The fact that my father had served in England for three years during the war only fueled the flames. I poured through the few souvenirs he still had; one of them was a beautiful little book by Allan Junior called This England. Replete with beautiful illustrations that I often tried to copy with my pastels, the book began with these near hallowed lines from Richard II:

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

In my teens and college years, my interest shifted to Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Dickens, and all the other great English writers who hopefully still captivate us today. In my oral interpretation class, I read aloud Alice Duer Mitchell’s The White Cliffs, a novella-length poem that foreshadowed the near obsession I’d have later in life with almost anything set in England during World War II. I studied European history, which of course was punctuated with Bourbons, Romanovs, and Habsburgs. When my two children were just past the toddler stage, Charles married Diana, and we were all up at 0-dark-30 to watch the royal wedding live and in brilliant color. Quite a change from the View-Master days.

This is a good time to point out that I began this post months ago, as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth. Like so many others, her passing felt like a personal loss—after all, she’d reigned for nearly my entire life. Ultimately, I shelved the draft because it seemed that whatever I wrote sounded hollow. From the Pope to Mick Jagger, from every corner of the globe, the powerful and celebrated sent expressions of condolence, admiration, and shared sorrow. Everything seemed to have been said.

Now we look forward to the Coronation of Charles III. As is always the case, there are nay-sayers: those who are opposed to this monarchy or monarchy in general, those who never forgive Charles or Camilla for their personal history, those who are firmly rooted in the Sussex camp. Personally, I’m a Wales fan. Yet everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, and I’m not a subject, so what I think doesn’t really matter.

I confess that I envy the Brits just a bit. I would love a leader who sat down each Christmas to speak to her constituents with grace, intelligence, and empathy, the way Elizabeth did. I would love a leader who shows true courage and steadfastness and humility even in the hardest of times, as Elizabeth did until her very last hours, as her mother and father did in the 20th Century’s darkest days. I would love a leader with that beautiful smile, a smile that inspired others to “shine through.”

Have there been bad ones in the royal lot? For sure. Edward VIII was one of them; his abdication was a lucky miss. The current Royal Family has its troubles. They are much like any other family, except that along with the privileges afforded by the robes and jewels and palaces, they also have the misfortune of living their lives amid a “search and destroy” media circus, 24/7 and overladen with hyperbole and falsehoods. That can’t be a walk on the palace lawn. Plus, all scientific advances aside, one still can’t choose one’s parents.

I didn’t like Charles much after the collapse of his first marriage. The couple’s unhappiness was palpable; it was almost a relief when the marriage ended. I was judgmental about him and Camilla and my heart broke for the tragic loss of “England’s rose.” Bad things happen, though, even when you don’t want them to.

Years later, I remind myself often of that valuable phrase, “Walk a mile in my shoes.” People grow and change. They grow from their mistakes—which is why we need to make them, after all. I’ve come to rather like Charles and Camilla, especially since lockdown. I love “The Queen’s Reading Room” and find Charles a fairly good painter. And so, from here, on the 13-original-colonies side of the pond, I happily wish them well.

Note: The images above are for non-commercial use and have been used according to stipulations on the Royal Family website.

8 thoughts on “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm…

  1. Darlene

    I love this post. I recall View-Masters. I enjoyed mine as well and had almost forgotten about them. Like you, I am a royalist and loved following the Royal family as a young girl growing up in Canada. I think I even had Prince Charles and Princess Ann cut-out dolls. I also wish Charles and Camilla all the best. Who of us hasn’t made some mistakes and upset our family? We just didn’t have it all over the news of the world! (Thank heaven!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maureen Hart

    I could never have phrased this better, Angela! I am a confirmed monarchist and Anglophile and have gotten up at crazy hours for each of their weddings, the Queen’s funeral (may she Rest In Peace), and of course I will be rubbing my eyes on Saturday to be ready for the only coronation I will likely ever see. I wish the new King and Queen and his family and his fellow Brits all the best in the years to come. God save the king. And may there always be an England!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    I have a View-Master in the attic so I had myself a good chuckle with the start of the post. I can’t imagine family life, Monarchy or average, with all the press coverage and people just waiting for a wrong step. I followed Queen Elizabeth as you did and found her to be a class act. There aren’t many of those left so her passing is a loss for all of us. Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

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