If you publicly say that you're excited for Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Halifax during the navy's centennial Fleet Week (June 28-29), expect a lot of eye rolls and history lessons. Sure the monarch has nothing to do with the day-to-day running of Canadian government, but who cares? She is one of the most recognizable people in the world, up there with Michael Jackson and a few popes. She's a bloody tough biscuit, too: Even at 84 years old she could pull a Betty White and take those risers at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo (she still rides horses and takes the Buckingham Palace stairs). But we'll never have a chance to find out. Her handlers gave the annual event their own version of the royal wave-off when Tattoo officials expressed concern for her safety and "dignity."
Liz has got currency, too. Every time you buy a beer or a box of cereal, there she is, hanging out on the five-dollar bill. Who would you replace the lovely younger Elizabeth with? Brian Mulroney? A raccoon? Perhaps Sidney Crosby will be there someday, but until we get a Canadian hero worthy of our wallets, or paper money disappears all together, she'll be here.
Long before Lindsay Lohan's sex tape, Liz had to deal with British tabloids ragging on her hats. Yes, she's done some questionable things, but whose grandmother hasn't? Queen E. should be celebrated for being one of the most consistent pop-culture icons ever. So work on your curtsy, hunt down a hat for the June 28 welcoming ceremony at Garrison Grounds and a Mi'kmaq cultural event, then brush up on your monarchy in pop culture facts. Cheerio, haters!
Henry VIII is Elizabeth II's 12th great-grand-uncle, and their lineage is connected in about 16 other ways that only make sense to history professors named Alistair. But Liz is a genuine Tudor, descended from Henry's sister Margaret. Therefore Elizabeth is also connected to the greatest royal smutfest ever to land on cable television. The Showtime series The Tudors, which has its show finale Sunday, June 20, made British history palatable thanks to luscious court scenes and plenty of raw, regally sanctioned sex. There is no way that Henry ever looked anything like wolf-eyed Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but we're willing to overlook inaccuracies for heaving-bosom soft porn.
Plus there's a local connection: Nova Scotia actor James Gilbert played William Brereton until the pseudo-fictitious character's head was chopped off after confessing to sleeping with Anne Boleyn.
Dame Helen Mirren is one of the best actors out there, and the British sex symbol---who put a wrinkle in Christopher Plummer's nightshirt during The Last Station---finally got her well-deserved golden statue when she won an Academy Award for The Queen. Elevating the biopic to an art form, Mirren sympathetically portrayed a famous woman whose every waking second is bound by duty, capturing her with grace and empathy.
There is a moment in the film that sums up everything you need to know about Liz. After Princess Diana's death, the monarchy was criticized publicly for its silence, while the family grieved in isolation. Under pressure, the Queen made a public statement about the loss, an uncharacteristic move. But watch and wait for the expression on Mirren's face right before the cameras roll. It's heartbreaking.
Imagine you could summon Jean-Luc Picard to your home to lay a sword on him. Queen Elizabeth can. Patrick Stewart and Peter Jackson were recently knighted, joining Bono, Sean Connery, Charlie Chaplin, Bill Gates and Bob Geldof, among other famous men and a few anointed dames. A couple of months ago Elizabeth giggled, in a dignified but delighted way, when she met her new BFF Lady Gaga, dressed as the Alice in Wonderland's Red Queen caught at a fetish party.
A few other celebrities owe her, too. Tell me that Betsey Johnson or John Galliano haven't thought of her rad hat-dress combos when they've designed their spring collections. And hey, without Elizabeth's "fascist regime" Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious wouldn't have had much of a song.