Wednesday, August 12, 2009

times they are a-changin'

Hey, did you hear the British royal monarchy is doing away with the
ancient protocol requiring it's subjects to walk backwards away from
the queen when leaving her presence? Remember the comical scene
in the movie The Queen when Tony Blair and his wife have to back
out of the room after their audience with Elizabeth?

The long standing tradition was meant for her subjects to never turn their backs on her majesty. I happen to love the romantic pomp and
circumstance of historical tradition, but this bit of protocol does seem
rather silly in this day and age. Times, they are a-changin'. And for
the better, too. Now, if only we could get everyone to come to their

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.
Bob Dylan, 1963


  1. Being swedish (monarchy) and living in France where the french finally had enough and chopped of the head of the queen and the king (and so many others in the same time) I really could relate to the abolishing of the monarchy BUT in the same time I'm for the preserving of tradtions. I just don't fancy paying for it. I'm glad I'm no more paying for the swedish king's private vacation in the south of france, for exemple. But I must say that our frenchs presidents costs as much as ever a queen or king :(. But they are elected and could be evicted without loosing their heads:)

  2. I think I would still feel disturbingly susceptible to a lightning strike if I turned my back on Her Majesty!! I just couldn't do it!

  3. Apparently there's talk about discontinuing the monarchy after Elizabeth dies. Not many see her heirs as worthy of all the pomp and circumstance.

  4. hey willow, i carry two passports - one canadian and one british. the monarchy has been a feature of the tapestry of my knowing england for all my life. but there are features of it that haven't worked for longer than that. it's useful to hold onto tradition if it works but if it runs counter to what is right and fair then it needs to adapt.
    to become a canadian citizen i had to swear allegiance to the queen - even though i was already a british subject! i'm not sure what that allegiance might look like now - from her perspective or mine.
    i'll be interested to read the range of comments from all around the world that will land here!!!
    have a peaceful evening at the manor! steven

  5. I am such an anglophile and love those Annie Liebowitz pictures of the Queen.

  6. a lot of truth in those words from dylan...

  7. Donna, Annie Leibovitz is a genius. Her photography is brilliant, don't you think? I recently got her book "Annie Leibovitz at Work". It's full of wonderful photos and the back ground behind them.

  8. Ah, the queen is seeing the handwriting on the wall. I'm not surprised.

  9. Willow, Being a diehard Bob Dylan fan, I absolutely loved your video posting. Written in 1963, well over 40 years ago, the poetry, the song, shows such wisdom for such a young man. And I've always followed the British monarchy with enthusiasm; it would be a shame for it to totally disappear.

    Slightly off topic, but I learned yesterday that the conception for the Brits' National Health Service came during World War II and was, thus, a product of the time - to take care of their people. Does that mean that our ill-fated new plan is a product of our time? I ranted about this subject this morning - it must be on my mind.

  10. I saw this last evening on the news & was glad. As a Welsh-American, brought up by Anglo-Welsh, you can only imagine how I, um, feel about the whole business. I'll be nice & not say anything more about it.

    Now, Bob, he's a different matter. Was playing this just this morning. He's always relevant...after all, he wrote it quite awhile ago.

    Cheers, pip pip:)

  11. Oh, I am so not a Dylan fan! I love Queen, though! lol!

  12. Okay, in the days when those surrounding royalty carried large swords, make that humungous swords, I'd have backed out of the room too. Keep eye contact for as long as possible, smile even if you don't mean it, bow, but not too low lest you leave your neck exposed.

    These days, I think a fit bump would be nice.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Okay, obviously I meant "fist bump" and was no way endorsing throwing a fit in front of royalty unless they throw it first. Then simply do as the upper class do.

  15. WooHOO! You broke 1000 followers! You're a STAR!!!! They'll be seeing you at the next Blogher events on the panels. :)

    Loved that movie, all the pomp and circumstance, and Dylan - I'm forever singing another verse to that song.....

    Come gather round people wherever you roam,
    And admit that the waters around you have grown,
    So you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone,
    Cause the times they are a-changin'.

    It's sticks in my head. Oh. And a complete non-sequitor but.....11 years of college to pay for?! Straight through? You need a Queen's ransom.

  16. and the nerve of that firm that's sueing annie liebovitz!! that vanity fair issue with her photos of the queen blew me away.
    and the monarchy doing away with ancient protocol? did michelle obama start this by touching the queen? haha ... remember the fuss about THAT?

  17. Great photograph, great video and cover of the song, so glad I popped over.

    I think the Dutch have the right idea, they still have their monarchy but in title only: they have to work for a living like everyone else.

  18. Okay, I will be singing that Bob Dylan for a while now...brings back memories! I think something in us longs for monarchy and the pomp that accompanies. I am certain it has been written about time and again--must look the psychology of this up.

    Mongrel-American though I am, I am fascinated by the royalty. I loved Helen Mirren in The Queent. Thanks for letting us know we don't have to back out of her presence any more. Never know when that might be useful! C

  19. Leave it to Bob Dylan to tell the truth!
    Time to stop bowing to exalted beings, although I'd probably nod if I stood before the Queen!

  20. That is quite a big deal! My lord, she is adapting to the times well these days...

  21. That picture of the Queen is beautiful, but it looked like George Washington when it was a tiny thing on my sidebar! :)

  22. I love that picture of the queen too -- it reminds me of the official portrait made around the time of her coronation.

    But I really loved the photo I saw, with Michelle O and Elizabeth R with their arms around each other. The times they are a-changin' indeed.

  23. I love Bob Dylan! Even in songs the main thrust of which I dislike (like this one), he is such a poet!

  24. Somehow I had missed this news! I agree, a little sad. And Dylan was just amazing, his lyrics, his thought patterns. No one had ANY idea of the times that are changing!!

  25. Beautiful, sad and melancholy.

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  27. Don't turn your back, as you may get stabbed...hehe sorry.

  28. I love our monarchy, but like you, find it just a tad absurd that people actually have to walk BACKWARDS!! Oh dear. Only in England. Loved the Bob Dylan. x

  29. I do love the Queen (both the real person and the film!) I guess I'm just a sucker for the tradition. I love the whole Englishness of it all. Yes, even walking backwards! Why not? Life is filled with walking forward moments! I was so excited when I went to England and saw the royal family on one of their meet and greets. I do think Queen Elizabeth has shown such dignity and power in her reign. (Listen to me! I'll be flying the Union Jack in a minute!) And okay, I don't even mind Charles. At least he appreciates an historic building and an organic garden! Just my tuppence worth! xx

  30. Dylan couldn't have said( or sang )it better! Traditions can be like outdated laws. There's a purpose for them, but they can be changed or abandoned.

    Off to see "Harpo"...

  31. Willow that is the best picture of the queen I have ever seen. Where or where did you find it?

  32. Willow, i agree, i too do love the romantic side to all the ceremony & tradition, but i guess we do have to move with the times, just a wee bit! I dothink it would be sad if everything were to become so sameish, what a boring place this planet wpuld be.

  33. Hello Willow,

    Walking backwards may be an outmoded practise but tradition is what our lives are built upon and the mystique of majesty is whittled away with each change. I feel sure that HM has not lost sleep over this.

    As for NOT touching The Queen, can you imagine how much pawing she, or any potentate, might get from the great unwashed?! Mrs Obama's action was unusual; that HM reciprocated was incredible!

    Loved your 'dream song', Willow. I was floating for a while!

  34. Yes, I found that walking backwards was quite ridiculous but than I am also the citizen of a republic!

  35. Arija, the photo of the Queen was taken by the wonderful Annie Leibovitz. I forgot to put the credit on my post and when I tried to add it, it wrecked the configuration of the whole thing. :P

  36. I was hoping Prince William would get a turn at this monarchy thing.... he's so cute and I don't think many would turn their back on him! HRH drove by me in a convertible while she was visiting Toronto in 1959 (different times). I was nine and we waved at one another smiling (sideways waving). I have always loved Bob Dylan! Did he live in Winnipeg for a time when he was little and did I recently read a funny story about him turning up for a tour of his old house? The wife(present owner) didn't recognize Dylan but the husband did. Was that a former post of yours Willow? Congratulations on having so many followers! It's all the very brilliant posting you do! I am a fan.=D

  37. God, wasn't Helen Mirren wonderful in that film? It does seem quite sensible that they change that ridiculous notion. How funny.

  38. Being a dual citizen,(two passports - EU which was formerly British, and American) my thoughts of royalty after living in the US for 46 years have changed somewhat. However, I still think the monarchy is right for Britain, as long as Elizabeth is living. Despite the Diana catastrophe, Elizabeth has been an amazing figurehead for so long, deeply respected by what is now the older generation. My parents brought me up to honor and and love her. The younger generation does not appear to be taught to feel this way! In the movie, Her Majesty's words are so true......"that's how I was raised". She was trained to be Queen, has never strayed from that difficult job, has done it elegantly.
    What does the future hold for the monarchy? I think Charles, if he gets the chance, may be an OK King for his remaining years, after that, perhaps Britain will face a huge change.

    By the way, Helen Mirren was amazing in this movie - but then isn't she in every movie she makes?

    Great post Willow. God Save Our Queen!

  39. Linda, no that wasn't from a previous post of mine, but it is a great story! I know. I love Prince William, too, and certainly hope he has the chance in his lifetime to be King William.

  40. Just my two cents, but I think Great Britain would lose too much of their fantastic sense of historical continuity and their national identity if the royalty were abolished.

  41. My favorite song, Willow. The times are certainly changing everywhere - except in our little town. We just kind of do our own thing and let the world go by.

    Should I hit the back button, close out, or move on to the next blog?

  42. I just LOVE that photo of her and love Dylan's second line: "don't criticize what you don't understand."

  43. The thing that floored me in that movie was when -- at the low point of the royal family's handling of Princess Diana's death -- a poll showed that 25% of Britons favored doing away with the monarchy. 25!?! I would have thought it would be at least that much on any random day! But, then, I live in a country without a monarchy.

  44. Oklahoma is a great musical! Fantastic songs make up for the complete lack of a plot.

    And yes of course the monarchy is withering away. Actually I find it kind of sad.

  45. Ah Bob ..always the best at boiling it down

  46. Heaven forfend that the poor Queen wold have to view my rear end.
    I do still know how to curtsy if/when I meet the queen
    though I never have had occasion to

    I also know how to enter a room and close the door behind me without turning my back on the person in the room.
    A most useful skill......
    in fact, I'm a positive compendium of useless skills.
    I feel quite conflicted about the monarchy......
    good for tourism and a soap opera but little else.
    I do think the current queen is worthy of my respect.

  47. I was very curious to see what all you Brits out there had to say on the subject. And you never let me down! Lots of fun and fascinating tidbits.

  48. always was a daft idea willow - a lot of the people HM sees are elderly and it must be a nightmare walking backwards! Having to curtsey is also rather stupid I think. These things will die out in time. My mother used to talk of how when she was a child in a small village all the girls used to have to curtsey when the lady of the manor rode past in her cariage (around 1900)

  49. Just as well I never met her, I'd have fallen over if I'd had to walk backwards! This reminds me more of the Goons song "I'm walking backwards for Christmas" than the Bob Dylan song.

    Guess why they've done it? Not because the times are a changing towards the monarchy. Nope, it's our total obsession with health and safety again. It knows no boundaries!

    I think when the Queen goes so should the monarchy. She's well respected and has an impeccable record. The rest don't! There I've said it. I'm not a royalist but I have to admit that they do bring a lot of money in through tourism. However they should be self sufficient and live off their cash.

    I'm not a Dylan fan, like his songs but only when other people sing them. He couldn't sing for toffee. Lightning will be striking our house tonight!

  50. I don't think I have even seen mention of this change on the news over here. In many ways non-Brits seem to care far more about British royalty than we do.

  51. Great movie and an outstanding performance! Love Helen Mirren and Annie Leibovitz too!
    Monarchy ended in 1910 here, when Portugal became a Republic.

  52. Well, as our history shows, being a monarch was never's one's family that cause the problems dontcha know?...smiling.
    I have the greatest admiration for HMQ, she took over the reign in the most trying of circumstances and has kept her side of the bargain with her people.
    After all, she reigns through the consent of her people - nothing more or less.
    Did you know it is not protocol to ask HMQ a direct question?


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)