by Greg Schwem
At last check, the time spent waiting for a chance to file past Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was estimated at 24 hours. Prior to her burial, the time spent waiting to file past Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was estimated at 24 hours, a figure made slightly higher when Piers Morgan tried cutting in line.
Note, I have no proof Morgan actually did that; but the man seems capable, doesn’t he?
It’s probably a good thing the Queen was officially laid to rest yesterday. Had the public viewing at Westminster Hall lasted any longer, King Charles III may have been lying alongside his mum by the time some reached the queue’s front.
As I watched new reports of the most publicized funeral since, well, since Elizabeth’s former daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, I wondered what would make anyone stand on their feet that long, simply to spend a few moments reflecting in front of a flag-draped casket? Knowing my bladder’s limitations, I would be forced to seek out a kindly looking British chap and ask that he hold my place while I ducked into a public loo. Sadly, I would have to repeat this process 24 times.
Then the answer came to me: The queen wasn’t a fan of selfies.
Face it, when a famous person dies, social media immediately becomes littered with posts from users recounting the time they met the dearly departed, accompanied of course by a photo as proof. This year I often felt like I was the ONLY person who didn’t meet Olivia Newton-John. Or Gilbert Gottfried. Or Vin Scully. Or Madeleine Albright. The list goes on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, I have taken my share of celebrity selfies. When Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, or, heaven forbid, Bruce Springsteen enter immortality, I will be frantically scrolling my phone, eventually finding proof of my encounter, which I will post on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook along with the obligatory affirmation that, yes, all were nice, gracious and accommodating.
But, as I write this, it’s been more than a week since Elizabeth’s death and I have yet to see one photo of her with a random individual who encountered her in a restaurant, aboard a flight or in a public park and summoned the nerve to hold up an iPhone and say, “Your Majesty, would you mind?”
For someone who ruled over 50 countries, public access to Elizabeth seemed remarkably limited. One never saw her riding a bike like Joe Biden or, like his predecessor, crashing a wedding at one of her properties and attempting to justify it with a goofy thumbs-up gesture. Then again, I’m not sure Windsor Castle is for rent. I hope not, as I have two unmarried daughters who may be eyeing it as the ultimate destination wedding site.
I have seen photos of the queen with non-family members, but most were as famous, if not more so, than she. When your name is Mick Jagger or Elton John, and you are summoned to Buckingham Palace to be knighted, then I guess there are multiple opportunities for selfies.
It’s rare, but occasionally I will see a selfie of a non-celebrity with Pope Francis, or one of his predecessors. It’s not that difficult, considering tickets to a papal audience are free and the Pope has been known to wander into the crowds following masses. One just needs a readily available phone and a little luck.
Since Elizabeth’s death, much has been made about the sheltered life she led after her coronation in 1953. I saw more photos of her with horses and corgis than I did with people. Charles, take note, you may not be the most popular monarch — you’ve already been met with shouts of, “Not my King” — but the desire to be close to your mother, even in death, shows that people still love the Royal Family.
Maybe it’s time to reciprocate. Ditch the parades. Instead, take an unannounced stroll through Hyde Park wearing jeans, sneak up behind a canoodling couple and ask how their day is going. Visit Wimbledon next summer and sit with the fans, as opposed to in the Royal Box. Cheer the loudest when phenom Carlos Alcaraz rips a backhand winner. Hell, start the wave. And yes, pose for selfies.
You will get thousands of “likes.”
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Amazon.com. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s monthly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at www.gregschwem.com)