Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
Alright guys… What is happening is absolutely unbelievable… QUEEN ELIZABETH II IS COMING TO UEA NEXT FRIDAY!!!!! (Not just for fun, she’s going to visit the Fiji exhibition at the amazing Sainsbury Centre — an exhibition that I recommend by the way).
I cannot believe it. The QUEEN!
The big news came out a few days ago in an email sent to students and staff and that’s all everybody talked about on Twitter and Facebook the entire day. When I got the email and read “Royal Visit” I thought “Meh, probably someone nobody has ever heard of…” And I was so wrong. I actually had to read the email several times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Amazed and over-excited, I immediately tried to ring my parents on Skype several times — with no success. So I messages them saying “I have unbelievable news, call me!!!”. Poor them, they thought I’d found a job or something! When I told them the Queen was coming to UEA they couldn’t believe it either and my mother was at least as excited as I was.
Unable to contain my excitement, I texted people to tell them and asked my parents to tell my grandmother to ring me immediately. I told her “Guess who’s coming to UEA?”. She said “I don’t know, you cousin?” and when I said “No, Queen Elizabeth” she let a little scream out! The funniest thing is she told me to go talk to the Queen, take a picture with her, and tell her how much she [my grandmother] loved her and the Royal family. How cute! I promised I would if I could get anywhere close to her but let’s be honest for a second: I am but a mere mortal. In any case, I think I’ll never forget my grandmother’s priceless reaction. Since then, my grandmother hasn’t stopped telling me how she saw parts of her coronation at the cinema in the 50s, how much she likes her…
But this is France for you.
France is obviously very proud of having a republic and, to some extent, of its history and the French Revolution… But to us, the thought of having a Royal Family and a Queen as famous and respected as Queen Elizabeth II seems amazing. Even for me, I don’t quite realise that she is a real Queen, with a real crown, living in a real castle nowadays — just because I’m not used to the idea and grew up in France (with way too many Disney films about princesses and evil queens).
It has to be said that French people are a bit crazy about the Queen and we don’t even know why. Probably just because it sounds really cool? There’s even the expression “And I’m the Queen of England!” (meaning “I’m no idiot, stop messing about”). I remember the 2012 Jubilee celebrations for instance, there was a live transmission on TV and my mother was watching it with my Union Flag scarf hung in the living room like a flag (yes — she really did that, don’t ask me why).
All this had made me realise that, to many British people and friends of mine, the Queen coming to UEA doesn’t mean much. Apparently lots of people here know someone who knows someone who’s seen or met the Queen at least once… I’ve probably seemed weird with my excitement. But to me, it’s like a rock star is coming to UEA while I am there! More than that: it’s as though a legend or even Jesus was coming!
I really hope that I can see her from a distance or even her car or something. Unfortunately, I have a seminar on Friday mornings but I’ve got priorities in life… Imagine how cool it’d be for me to go back to France and be able to say “Yes, I saw Queen Elizabeth II once” with a smug smile on my face? People would probably bow before me. I’ve even thought of questions to ask her if I met her — that’s how much I’ve been thinking about it! I also wonder what people are supposed to tell the Queen when they meet her… Probably more than “Hello”. 🙂