Fay Batey, a 10-year-old schoolgirl at Wiggonby CofE School, near Wigton, Cumbria (All real names), asked Queen Elizabeth II:
“Do you want Kate’s baby to be a boy or a girl?”
The Queen: ‘I don’t think I mind.’
I have several interpretations of her reply.
1. She does not think she minds as long as someone comes out
2. She is not entirely sure whether she minds if anyone comes out
3. She does not think she minds whether it is a boy or a girl but not so sure whether she minds one way or the other
The operative part of her reply comes in the comment that followed: “I would very much like it to arrive because I’m going on holiday soon… I wish it would hurry up.”
Her concern is that the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge (that would be Kate) must deliver someone, anyone, without delaying her holiday.
This from a woman whose entire life has been a sort of holiday. For any queen, particularly the queen of England, work of any manner is a matter of choice and not necessity. It is the holiday that is the default life. What changes is the venue of that holiday. In this case she plans to spend the summer at Balmoral in Scotland.
She wants to leave next week provided Kate gives birth in time. It would be somewhat of a royal inconvenience for Kate’s baby to keep the queen confined to the Buckingham Palace. But that’s the kind of sacrifice the queen is called upon to make. Can you imagine the sheer hardship of having to stay put in a palace which has 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices 78 bathrooms?
For those of us used to the overwhelming opulence of our common life it is next to impossible to fully grasp how hard it is to lead the life of severe austerity that the queen of England has to bear and yet smile politely at her subjects and even occasionally answer them like she did Fay. It is only appropriate that some in the British media have described Fay as “bold” for displaying the insolence to ask the queen a question. Usually the subjects are just expected to stand on the sidelines in an obsequiously unctuous manner and either gently applaud or wave the Union Jack or do both.