June 19, 2001
Won't it be a disappointment when England follows a King again? It seems she's always had a Queen, and one wonders whether our age won't come to some kind of dark vacuum when Elizabeth II retreats. It is with difficulty that one searches for the quintessential England without running into a female at the nation's head. One is bound to ask God's grace for the female monarch as one is bound to employ her name in romanticising the secret service, discussing a prison sentence in a 19th century novel, or merely interacting with a common merchant. Has England once prospered by a man? She makes a case for female identity. While we may cheer for Henry V's heroics in France we must not overlook their chronicle by a subject of the original Elizabeth. Is Shakespeare sly in producing six or eight works featuring King when his present would so clearly pass into a future that maintained the chorus of Queen? Smart as he was, his work could not be but a sexually-reversed allegory, and he peers from between his stage directions smiling like Leonardo Da Vinci's seated model. She is India and Africa. She is the empire on which the sun never sets. She is the renaissance and the enlightment. She is money and the difference engine. She is Sir Edmund Hillary and the Theatre. She is even--privatisation. She is her majesty.