The year’s weirdest and wildest news story so far was actually not so weird and wild, after all. It speaks to the perpetual perdurability of Queen Elizabeth II (April 21, 1926-September 8, 2022) that a 96 year-old woman who’d just beaten covid in February could die in September, and the entire world was shocked, legit. Lucky for us, the queen did all the prep-work, well in advance, allowing her loved the world at large to just sit back, relax, and play their part in the spectacle of her exit, stage-managed to the finest details.
“London Bridge Is Falling Down” was published in 1744, and the iconic nursery rhyme has been discussed more in recent days than at any time since Fergie dropped “London Bridge” in 2006. Why? Because “London Bridge” is the code-name for the elaborate scenario that played out when the queen died. Since we have a little extra space in this month’s online edition of Folio, here’s a special edition of Weird Wild News dedicated to the final boss of Planet Earth, one of the most interesting people who ever lived–or ever died, for that matter.
The queen now rests among approximately 38 of her ancestors, including her husband and her parents, buried in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Her coffin was built from oak, some 30 years ago. (Knowing her, she probably took a picture with it, which we’ll discover sometime long in the future.) It’s also lined with lead, boosting its weight to nearly 700 pounds. This was not to deter grave-robbery, as we’ve seen with other public figures, most notably Abe Lincoln (crazy story about that), but to deter decomposition.
It may be a sore subject with the royals. She and her namesake, Queen Elizabeth I, were both embalmed, but the former’s body endured the same indignity as William the Conqueror: it literally exploded from built-up gasses. Are there other, similar cases in history? YES.
Her coffin was heavy enough, from all that lead, and then you add another 2.5 pounds of the Imperial State Crown, which sat on top during the entire mourning period. That Windsor drip was already the stuff of legend, but leave to “Lillibet” to flex on you fools one last time.
Built in 1937, it has exactly 3,174 precious stones, including 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, “collected” from around the world. It is officially priceless, but in “Antiques Roadshow” terms, an auction price would start at about $5 billion. It’s (probably) the most expensive of the 142 different items kept at the fittingly named “Jewel House”, including 13 crowns, 6 swords, 13 maces, 16 trumpets, and a spoon. The building is right next to the Tower of London, so you can put all your Lupin III fantasies to rest.
As the “monarch di tutti monarchi”, even the queen was beholden to an intricate array of arcane rules, mostly of her own construction. For example, every member of the family was weighed before and after Christmas dinner, to see who enjoyed themselves the most. 2) The family was banned from playing “Monopoly!”, because it made them too angry, which is something we can all empathize with. Prince Andrew reportedly was the one who made this known, when he refused a gifted copy in 2008. Because, yeah, THAT is where Prince Andrew draws the line–despicable!
Members of the royal family are also not allowed to vote, because they’re supposed to be above that–as opposed to here in America, where people don’t vote because they’re just stupid. They’re also not allowed to sign autographs, for fear of forgeries.
Other restrictions are more practical. Direct heirs cannot fly together, for obvious reasons. They are also strongly discouraged from eating foods in public that might make them sick, such as rare meat, hot peppers, shellfish and especially tap water. No George Bush in Japan debacles for them, but also no invitation to the Folio Holiday Party, either.
Queen Elizabeth II is dead, but she will live forever in our hearts, and her memory will linger on, partially through a slew of assorted collectibles, all of which are selling for record prices right now. Our favorites include a 1952 Topps trading card, which sold for $50,000. (It was, interestingly, the same year as the Mickey Mantle card that just recently broke the world record for a trading card at auction); various pieces of currency from across her empire, especially the nations that are now independent; and assorted Beanie Babies. Toy companies saluted her on social media, usually with pictures of her in Funko form or Playmobil pastiche. Cynical? Yes, but also sweet and well-intentioned, much like her. God Save the Queen!