As many of you know, the Queen delivers a Christmas Speech on Christmas every year, trying to sum-up as best as one, self-educated Queen might the greatest achievements, both public and royal.
I have known of her Christmas Speeches since 2013, the year my mother died. A “distant” relative suggested I might find some solace in the speech by Her Majesty, and particularly that year, that it behooves me to listen. Even my American cousin, Bonnie, said at the time, “She is speaking directly to you, Mike!” Which of course, is a drastic overstatement. Yet, like a Royal “Mr. Roger’s” she speaks as if you are the only one listening to her and are the intended recipient. I did find solace.
Since that time, I have listened every year to The Queen at Christmas. More than once, by the way. I find something new and amazing every time I listen to the same speech! Even as a scientist and Doctor in Physical Sciences, I learn so much from Her Majesty.
Despite having no formal education outside of public school in the UK , she taught herself atomic theory (at the time Her Majesty was reared young ladies were not expected to know much outside the home.) Even if you were in line for the throne, the same rules applied to Princesses. Have we come along way! And hopefully gone forever is that Patriarchy!
This year, I found reason to include the Queen’s Christmas Speech in I Really Appreciate Science, not only for her mention of The 50th Anniversary of The Apollo Mission to the Moon, but also her obvious anticipation for the First Woman to step foot on the Moon.
Have we come along way!
Her Majesty as Princess Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, Auxiliary Territorial Service (a military rank she insisted she earn by her own labour) doing her duty as an Ambulance and lorry driver, and part-time mechanic.
“While still a Crown Prince, Abdullah visited the Queen’s castle in Scotland, Balmoral, in 2003 and she offered him a tour of the place. When the cars were brought around and Abdullah got in the front passenger seat, the Queen herself hopped into the driver’s seat.
“As Princess, she wanted to join the women serving as drivers, bakers, postal workers, ammunition inspectors, and mechanics to free up men for the front lines. She remains the only female member of the royal family to join the military, and is the only living head of state to serve in WWII.
“Not only did the Queen get into the driver’s seat — she didn’t even hesitate before turning the car on and rolling out. And as an Army driver during a war, she knew how to roll along Scotland’s winding roads.
“British diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles recounted for The Sunday Times that during an audience with Her Majesty, she told Coles that she was talking to Abdullah the whole time, even as he pleaded for her to pay attention to the road.”
To perhaps paraphrase her Majesty more precisely – ‘You’re damn right one is driving oneself.’
Coming from a country like Saudi Arabia and traditional culture where teaching a woman to drive is still illegal, having Her Majesty drive could be perceived by many less-informed as just adding more insult to injury, I suppose. However, I do not believe that was the lesson we can learn. If we take this year’s Christmas speech as Her Majesty’s benchmark, we all must be willing to teach in small steps. Small steps, as in teaching that drivers of any gender may drive with proficiency if given lessons. Small steps, by necessity, will lead to far greater, qualitative steps. Like women piloting their own #Artemis spacecraft onto the lunar surface.