I was in early elementary school when Princess Elizabeth became Queen. As a little girl, I didn’t know anything about the British Empire, imperialism, or politics, but I was fascinated by this young woman, only a few years younger than my mother, who acceded to the pomp and circumstance of the British throne. It was a fairy tale come true, highlighted by lavish pictorial spreads in LIFE magazine, which arrived by subscription wherever we lived as a military family. I clipped those photos and saved them for years; a glossy cover photo of the young queen was a favorite.
Throughout her unprecedented 70-year reign, Elizabeth II was beloved by many, reviled by some, but seemed always serene, well-mannered and, well, regal. The mystique was managed, most likely, by dozens of staff behind the scenes for every event – hairdressers, wardrobe designers, milliners, maids and valets, most likely even someone who kept track of whatever was in her ubiquitous handbag! If being queen was a role, Elizabeth knew how to hit her mark, utter her lines, and acknowledge accolades. One difference – she never took a bow; others bowed to her.
The formality of court procedures was on view last weekend as the Accession Council, for the first time in 70 years, met to proclaim the queen’s eldest son, Charles, as the new sovereign. In a radical change (although 70 years in the making), the formal ceremony was televised, but also participating were dozens of women – the newest Prime Minister Liz Truss, whose meeting with the Queen at Balmoral was the last photo taken of Elizabeth; former Prime Minister Theresa May, members of Parliament, and Penny Mordaunt, the new leader of the House of Commons, who had a central role leading the Accession Council, a mere four days after becoming Lord President of the Privy Council. There may not be another Queen as Britain’s sovereign for many decades, but these women, regardless of political bent, are taking their rightful place in the leadership and policy-making of their country, a course that wasn’t available when Elizabeth took the throne.
Congratulations to the Evergreen Heights Community Association, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend. Evergreen Heights was one of the first townhome communities in Annandale when it was built on what had been farmland in 1972. Original resident Sharon Kash recollected that there were no sidewalks or streetlights when she moved in, the K-Mart had just opened, and groceries were purchased at the A & P at Columbia Pike and Gallows Road.
Condolences to friends and neighbors of Marty Bernstein, a longtime Lakeside Plaza resident who passed away after a brief illness. Marty was a terrific civic volunteer, who always approached community challenges with a positive attitude. He often was in touch with my office about improving signalization and line of sight at Powell Lane and Columbia Pike, concerned about the safety of students and commuters at the bus stops there, and enforcing parking regulations. Marty Bernstein was just 70 when he died earlier this month.