The queen of their dreams

In 1927, a year after the birth of Queen Elizabeth II, Virginia Woolf set out some thoughts on the art of biography. The ideal, he wrote, should achieve “that strange blend of dream and reality, the perpetual marriage of granite and rainbow.” The Granite of Facts and the Rainbow of Personality: what did they do? And What were they like?

For Elizabeth, who was one of the most famous people in the world for the best part of a century, most of the granite is a matter of public record (though the patches would remain under seal for many years to come). Ben Pimlott in Biographies “the queen” Sits atop the pile: a historian’s biography, measured and rigorous, not just for royal watchers. First published in 1996, when, as Pimlott wrote, “royal stocks were at a low ebb”, it has been updated periodically, most recently in 2012, Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee year, by which time Vivian Old punks like Westwood were also asserting themselves. His fans

But observing the rainbow presents a problem: how to separate the personality from the public mood? I don’t believe – during Elizabeth’s lifetime, at least – that this disruption was ever possible. However, half a century ago – already a generation into his era – a short book turned the problem on its head.

Brian Masters instead of worrying about the personality of the sovereign “Dreams About HM The Queen” (1972) presents it as a lens through which to examine the inner lives of his subjects. Masters interviewed a large section of the British public – about a thousand people – asking them to describe the dreams they could remember about the royal family. About a third were able to comply. Masters’ correspondents came from all walks of life. If there was one thing they had in common, apart from dreaming of the queen, it was that almost none of them had actually met her, nor had any reasonable expectation of ever doing so. The Elizabeth of his dreams — “the daughter,” as Masters referred to her — was purely a figment of the imagination.

The result is a kind of collective dream diary, a statement of a national obsession. (Two national obsessions, in fact: Masters observes that about half of the respondents’ dreams involved drinking tea.) Often the queen’s dream is a dream of trouble: the daughter arrives on the doorstep unannounced, and the dreamer’s home. I mess up or they stand up. In the nude she sometimes needs a helping hand, allowing the fantasy of rendering service — giving her a hat; Helping him across the street – that would be appreciated. Sometimes, as in the example below, shared by a male student, idealization has something charged, even a bit sensational, about it:

He was in a pub with the Queen and Prince Charles. The Queen was fully adorned with a crown. It was his turn to buy a round, so he bought himself and the Queen a pint, and Charles a barleywine. The Queen then asked him to check on the Rolls-Royce outside, and when he returned, the Queen had finished both his bitter gram and hers. Then he said, “Well, it’s time for us to go.” The three of them set out for the rolls, the queen took the wheel and drove off.

I sincerely hope that this dream will come true.

There’s granite if you want it: start with the pumice stone and work outwards. And maybe, in time, a clear rainbow will begin to appear. But Masters’ funny, quirky book manages to succeed by recording something different. Not a history but a snapshot, registering the Queen’s pervasive presence, the wonderful impact she made on millions of people she would never meet.

Over the past few days it has been a cliché to comment that Elizabeth was a symbol. In fact, he was worth his entire dictionary. “The next time you dream of the queen,” Masters wrote, “ask yourself how you felt in the dream, how she treated you, how you behaved, when you woke up. What felt most in your heart.” As the unwitting messenger of her subjects’ unconsciousness, she can become a counsellor, a wish-fulfiller, an alarm bell for tension. “For all her accomplishments and skills, HM The Queen is the unofficial private psychologist … for a large number of her subjects,” Masters concluded. “She is the queen of British psychology.” She can be irreplaceable in this role.

Denise Duncan is a lecturer in English at University College London and “Index, A History of the

A note to our readers

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means of earning fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *