rainn.png
Thursday February 2nd, 2023 7:39PM

The queen, as imagined — from punk rock to mystery novels

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

In the spring of 2012, portrait artist Ralph Heimans stood on the Cosmati pavement of Westminster Abbey and awaited the subject of his latest commission, Queen Elizabeth II. When she approached, he says, it was an extraordinary moment.

"She was wearing her Robe of State, with four footmen holding it, and as she came down the long corridor it was a very theatrical kind of entrance,” Heimans said soon after he had learned that the queen had died Thursday at age 96.

After spending an hour the queen, “discussing niceties,” he came away with “a sense of how thoughtful she was, almost a sense of shyness, an introspective quality.” In his oil painting, which hangs in Westminster, he drew her as a solitary, even brooding figure, her eyes cast down, with the vastness of Westminster behind her like so much weight from the past — and present.

“I wanted to show her in this private moment, with a certain gravity about her,” he says.

Over the past 70 years, authors, filmmakers, playwrights, songwriters and painters have responded to the queen as both symbol and human being, whether commenting on the heights of her position or attempting to tease out the inner life of a woman who spoke infrequently in public and avoided personal revelations. The dual qualities, majesty and mystery, found her imagined in settings ranging from the sobriety of royal art to the rage of punk music to the varied characterizations of film and television.

“I think because she was a constant presence who didn't say very much, it allowed people to project on her in different ways,” says Elizabeth Holmes, whose “HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style” was published in 2020. “Also, you can very easily make people look like the Queen. You can take that as a starting point and run.”

On film, the queen has been fictionalized in everything from Helen Mirren's Oscar-winning portrayal in “The Queen” to the farcical “Naked Gun” movies and the grim “Spencer,” with Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana and Stella Gonet as Elizabeth. But she has been dramatized most fully in the Emmy-winning Netflix series “The Crown," which follows her life from the beginning of her reign to recent times — and whose production was suspended Friday after her death.

When played by Claire Foy as a young and glamorous monarch, she is seen as finding her way in her new life, trying to maintain a happy relationship with her husband, Prince Philip. while approaching her royal duties with the sobriety of someone years older. Olivia Colman takes over as Elizabeth ages and becomes more mature and prickly, and flawed, failing initially to travel to the scene of a devastating mining tragedy in Wales and comfort the townspeople, and proving unsympathetic to Diana's troubles with her son Prince Charles.

“I emote. The queen is not meant to,” Colman told Vanity Fair in 2018. “She’s got to be a rock for everyone, and has been trained not to (emote).”

The queen herself didn't comment on works about her or always seem aware of cultural trends: Greeting Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page at a 2005 palace reception, she seemed unsure of who he was and what instrument he played. But she sensed her place in world and had enough savvy to appear with Daniel Craig, in character as James Bond, for a 2012 Olympics video, and enough good humor to allow herself to be pictured as parachuting from a helicopter with him (the former was really her, the latter a stunt double).

Fiction writers enjoyed setting the queen off on unusual adventures. In Emma Tennant's “The Autobiography of the Queen,” the monarch flees to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. S.J. Bennett worked from the premise “What if the queen solved crimes?” in writing the mystery novels “The Windsor Knot” and “A Three Dog Problem.”

“She had such a unique perspective on the world. She was always looking out when everyone else was looking at her, so she must see a lot of things the rest of us don’t see,” Bennett, the daughter of a military veteran who had met the Queen, told The Associated Press.

“It was her character that fascinated me, not her position as a symbol," she added. "She was intelligent, frequently underestimated because she wasn’t traditionally educated, and endlessly curious about people. In the books I have her eagerly looking out of the windows of Buckingham Palace while being painted for a portrait, to see what was going on outside, because that’s what she really did. She had a very wry sense of humor and a huge instinct for fun, but equally an almost supernatural instinct for diplomacy, and a world-class sense of duty.”

Musicians have paid tribute, condemned her and invoked her name for a quick laugh.

For punk and New Wave artists, she was a monument to be torn down. The Smiths' “The Queen Is Dead” mocks the royal family and the succession to power: “I say, Charles, don’t you ever crave/To appear on the front of the Daily Mail/Dressed in your Mother’s bridal veil?” The Sex Pistols helped define the punk movement in 1976 with ”God Save the Queen," in which Johnny Rotten (now Lydon) declares “No future” as he snarls out some of the most scathing, nihilistic lyrics ever to top the British charts:

God save the queen

The fascist regime

They made you a moron

A potential H bomb

God save the queen

She’s not a human being ...

Songwriters otherwise responded with affection. Duke Ellington met her in the late 1950s and found her “so inspiring” he soon collaborated with Billy Strayhorn on the pensive “The Queen's Suite,” for which he arranged a single gold pressing just for her. In the late 1960s, Paul McCartney dashed off the acoustic, 23-second “Her Majesty,” with its cheeky refrain, “Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl/But she doesn't have a lot to say," and the Beatles tacked it onto the end of “Abbey Road.”

As he explained in “Paul McCartney: The Lyrics,” published in 2021, he wrote the song in part because the queen really didn't offer many public statements, beyond her annual Christmas address and the opening of Parliament. McCartney would meet the queen numerous times, as a Beatle and a solo performer, and even played the song for her. But, he reaffirmed in his book: “She didn't have a lot to say.”

____

AP National Writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News, APOnline Celebrity News
© Copyright 2023 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
9/11 terror attacks reverberate as US marks 21st anniversary
Americans are remembering 9/11 with tear-choked tributes and pleas to “never forget” 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil
12:59PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Greek leader says armed conflict with Turkey won't happen
Greece’s prime minister says he cannot imagine that tensions with neighboring NATO ally Turkey could ever escalate into armed conflict
12:59PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Unions blast rail move to delay shipments before deadline
The heads of the nation’s two largest rail unions said Sunday that the freight railroads’ move to begin delaying some hazardous shipments ahead of this week’s looming strike deadline is only an attempt to get shippers to increase the pressure on Congress to block a work stoppage by imposing a contract on workers
12:53PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Catalans separatists rally with movement fraying 5 years on
Tens of thousands of Catalan separatists are rallying in Barcelona in an attempt by the march organizers to reignite the independence movement that is fraying as it nears the five-year anniversary of its failed breakaway bid from the rest of Spain
11:48AM ( 1 hour ago )
Russian forces retreat amid Ukrainian counteroffensive
Ukraine has successfully pressed its swift counteroffensive in the northeastern part of the country even as a nuclear plant in the Russia-occupied south completely shut down in a bid to prevent a radiation disaster as fighting raged in the area
11:32AM ( 1 hour ago )
A queen and her corgis: Elizabeth loved breed from childhood
For many people around the world, the word corgi is forever linked to Queen Elizabeth II
11:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Victor Glemaud puts fashion on roller skates at Fashion Week
Victor Glemaud brought out crowds of onlookers to catch his latest New York Fashion Week show at the Rockefeller Center roller skating rink on Saturday
10:21AM ( 2 hours ago )
Virus forces Lea Michele off Broadway stage in 'Funny Girl'
Fans of Lea Michele will have to wait a little more to see her singing in “Funny Girl” on Broadway
9:07AM ( 4 hours ago )
Live updates: King Charles to attend Commonwealth reception
King Charles III will attend a reception Sunday with commissioners from Commonwealth nations
6:16AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Puerto Rico star Ricky Martin faces sexual assault complaint
A sexual assault complaint has been filed against Puerto Rico pop star Ricky Martin, who recently sued his nephew over what he said were false allegations of sexual abuse
1:41PM ( 23 hours ago )
Defense rests at R. Kelly trial on trial-fixing charges
The defense for R. Kelly and two co-defendants has rested at the R&B singer’s trial on charges of trial-fixing, child pornography and enticing minors for sex
7:30PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Recordings News
Stepping up: Next generation of royals to see more scrutiny
Prince William and wife Kate have made a surprise joint appearance with Prince Harry and wife Meghan warmly greeting a large crowd gathered outside Windsor Castle to remember their long-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II
4:27PM ( 20 hours ago )
Charles is proclaimed king; sons unite to thank the public
King Charles III has been formally proclaimed sovereign of the U.K. in a ceremony in London
3:55PM ( 21 hours ago )
AlphaTauri says 2023 seat will likely go to Gasly or Herta
AlphaTauri is awaiting a decision from the FIA on Colton Herta’s eligibility to compete in Formula One next season
3:19PM ( 22 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
9/11 terror attacks reverberate as US marks 21st anniversary
Americans are remembering 9/11 with tear-choked tributes and pleas to “never forget” 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil
12:59PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Greek leader says armed conflict with Turkey won't happen
Greece’s prime minister says he cannot imagine that tensions with neighboring NATO ally Turkey could ever escalate into armed conflict
12:59PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Unions blast rail move to delay shipments before deadline
The heads of the nation’s two largest rail unions said Sunday that the freight railroads’ move to begin delaying some hazardous shipments ahead of this week’s looming strike deadline is only an attempt to get shippers to increase the pressure on Congress to block a work stoppage by imposing a contract on workers
12:53PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Sweden holds vote expected to boost anti-immigration party
Sweden is holding an election that is expected to boost a populist anti- immigration party that is vowing to crack down on gang violence shaking many people's sense of security
12:52PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Last reactor at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant stopped
Ukraine’s atomic power operator says the last reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been shut down after the plant was reconnected to the electricity grid
12:43PM ( 36 minutes ago )