Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Day

Just a few thoughts from watching the service this morning.

Is the the only occasion on which the Queen bows, and is not bowed to? She doesn't curtsey, but after she lays the first wreath on the Cenotaph, she does bow, like Granny Weatherwax. I find that incredibly touching, that someone who is bowed to a million times a day affords the same courtesy--even stepping backwards so as not to turn her back--to the Cenotaph.

How weird must it be to be the Queen and hear everyone singing God Save The Queen, even your husband?

How come, as Commander in Chief of the British forces, she doesn't wear a military uniform? and why does she carry a handbag?

The inscription on the Cenotaph reads 'The Glorious Dead'. I bet they didn't feel particularly glorious when they died.

The service is C of E, yet attended by religious leaders from a dozen or so other faiths. I wonder what they think about during the Lord's Prayer?

The other week, my dad was asked by a Belgian colleague why he wore a red poppy. My mum was astonished and disgusted that he didn't know its significance, until I pointed out that the poppy is a symbol used by the Royal British Legion, and therefore unlikely to be recogniseable to anyone outside Britain. But it did make me wonder what sort of services, symbols and rituals are observed in places like Belgium and France, where so much of the WWI fighting took place, and where, after all, the poppy fields are.

Wednesday, I'll be heading to the RNA Winter Party in Birdcage Walk, just around the corner from Whitehall. If I take the Tube to Westminster, I'll walk right past. Perhaps, I'll pop down to the Cenotaph and pay my respects.


  1. Does the queen sing "God Save Me?"

  2. I've always wondered what she carries in her handbag.