Recently, after my parents and I were all double-vaccinated, I was able to travel to Kansas City to visit. It was wonderful. In my whole life, I’d never gone such a long time without seeing my parents, or returning to my hometown.
By chance, I was staying with my parents on the day of the funeral of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. As the three of us all went about our morning, we watched different parts of the ceremony as it was shown live on TV.
I was very struck by the fact that both my parents, independently of each other, made the same observation to me.
Some additional background about the Royal Family, if you don’t follow their news closely: In 2018, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, and last year, the couple decided that they would no longer be working members of the royal family. As a consequence, among other things, Prince Harry relinquished several honorary military titles, so he can no longer wear a military uniform at official events, as he used to do.
Later in the day, when we running errands together, my mother said, “Did you see that all the men in the Royal Family were wearing civilian clothes, not military uniforms? The commentators said that the Queen directed that change. Now that Prince Harry gave up his honorary military titles, he can’t wear the uniform anymore, and he would’ve been the only one. The Queen didn’t want to make him feel set apart.”
“Interesting,” I said. I wouldn’t have known enough to notice anything unexpected about what they were wearing.
The next morning, when my father and I were out on our usual long walk together, my father said, “I thought it was such a good idea for the Queen to tell the family that they should all be dressed alike. It was really wise to anticipate how that issue could be a problem.” I was astonished that he’d said this, because it was so unlike my father to pay attention to the Royal Family, court protocol, or how people were dressed. That action by the Queen really made an impression.
And I agree, I think my mother and father were right. It showed great foresight to imagine the consequence of this traditional practice. This aspect of the ceremony might very well have gone unquestioned, in a time of great grief and pressure, until it was too late.
It’s hard to be thoughtful in the moment, and it’s even harder to be thoughtful ahead of time.