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Madeleine Kunin: I may be a monarchist

People bring floral tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, the day after her funeral in London’s Green Park, on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The Queen, who died aged 96 on Sept. 8, was buried at Windsor alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, who died last year. Photo by Andreea Alexandru/AP

Madeleine M. Kunin, who was a three-term governor of Vermont, is the author of “Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties.”

I believe I may be a monarchist, much to my surprise. For the last week, I have watched more television than is good for me. I fall right in line with my age group — older people are more likely to mourn the departed Queen Elizabeth II than younger generations.

I did not cry; her death is not a tragedy. She had a good life and lived to celebrate her 96th birthday, surrounded by family. It was a very disciplined life. She made an important decision as a young woman of 25, when she was suddenly cast in a role she had not anticipated — head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith. 

She promised to devote herself to the people in words that sounded like a religious vow. She knew then, as she knew when she drew her last breath after her 70-year reign, that she would not lead a normal life. Her life would be strictly edited. No opinions discussed, few emotions revealed. She could, however, choose her life partner. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was silently and steadily at her side. When he died in 2021, she must have felt deeply bereft, but could express almost no public grief.

Despite having few choices about her life, she did enjoy her life as a country woman at Balmoral Castle in Scotland where she apparently chose to die.

Only rarely could she express herself. One exception was her Christmas address to the nation when she called the past year “horrible,” in part because of three divorces in her family.

Yet, she was amazingly popular. Her people loved her with an unheard of devotion. Could it be that they understood, deep down, what she had sacrificed for them? She took a vow of fealty to her country and never deviated from it. That’s why women, men and children formed a nine-mile-long line to pay their final respects to a woman who had promised them: “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”

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