The rear window of a cab with the image of Queen Elizabeth II is pictured parked near Buckingham Palace in London Sept. 8, 2022, as people gather after the announcement that Britain's longest-reigning monarch and the nation's figurehead for seven decades died at the age of 96. CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters

Surrendering to a greater purpose

  • September 14, 2022

I’ve never been a royalist. You can classify me as a Canadian who views the presence of the United Kingdom and its monarchy as an institution in Canada as one would accept there is a blue sky above his or her head — largely out of sight and out of mind.

My introduction into learning more about the late Queen Elizabeth II was Netflix’s extravagant original drama series, The Crown.

I quickly became an admirer of the show. The re-creations of the royal wedding between Elizabeth and the future Prince Philip, the Queen’s coronation and the intricate detail used for the Buckingham Palace and other House of Windsor castles was mighty impressive.

While it is manifestly clear to viewers that liberties have been taken with the storytelling for the sake of heightening the melodrama, I think series creator and head writer Peter Morgan has overall done an admirable job in presenting an honest essence of a unique breed of nobility shrouded in mystery and detachment from everyday people.

It’s clear Morgan has lived-in narrative instincts when it comes to this subject matter. After all, he wrote the screenplay for The Queen, which netted Helen Mirren a lead actress Oscar, and the Tony-Award-winning stage production The Audience, an imagining of how the Queen interacted with each of her prime ministers.

Above all, I watch movies and television shows to (hopefully) witness great acting, and The Crown has boasted one of the best ensemble casts since its 2016 premiere. Claire Foy, and later Olivia Colman, portraying Queen Elizabeth II delivers the most captivating performance on the show.

This is a character, in Morgan’s assessment, who constantly experiences an internal push-pull clash. One part of her is the “living, breathing woman” who desires the roles of mother and wife to take centre stage in her life. The other is a lady determined to make her father proud by being the perfect embodiment of the impartial, dignified head of church and state.

“The two Elizabeths will frequently be in conflict with one another,” said Queen Mary (Eileen Atkins) in the show’s second episode. “The fact is the Crown must win. Must always win.”

The researcher in me became interested if this dimension of Elizabeth II’s characterization was grounded in reality. I did spend an hour or two reading archived news articles and other scholarly sources from the past, and I came to the determination that the Queen did excel in committing to an image of impartiality and regality for over 70 years. Her resilience on this front enabled the Crown to endure periods of “instability and drama.”

Sacrificing our temporal, self-interested desires for the sake of striving for a higher ideal. Where have Catholics heard a version of that sentiment before? The Holy Bible, of course.

When Jesus calls each of us to follow Him to attain a place in His Kingdom of Heaven, we are asked to surrender and commit completely to the higher purpose of enacting His special plan for each of us. We are asked to have the courage to potentially walk away from our belongings, homeland, friends and family to tread the pathway of discipleship.

In the grand scheme of things, our life on Earth in many ways is a wisp of a wind. We cannot afford to possess a mentality of procrastination when it comes to surrendering our interests so we can be an effective ambassador of Christ. In truth, Jesus’ will must win. Must always win.

This column is not expressing a positive or negative appraisal of the Queen and the Royal Family as a whole. There are learned experts more capable of navigating that divisive topic. All I am stating is the Queen appeared to excel at surrendering her dreams for a calling considered greater. As Christians, we must be bold enough to take similar action for a purpose we know is greater.

(Amundson is The Register’s Youth Editor.)

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