I was born in 1984. I’m what you would call an “elder millennial” and in the time that I’ve been alive, I’ve borne witness to one of the greatest times of change in human history both technologically and culturally.
Change has always been a part of my generation. We millennials were the generation that watched our technology go from analog to digital. We grew up around the birth of the internet and watched as it changed humanity forever. We were young when the towers fell and watched as the event brought a seemingly unending war as well as a radical change to our liberties. Presidents have come and gone, MTV went from being a music channel to…whatever it is today, and it was my generation that “cut the chord” and began the streaming service wars. Millennials were the first major fighters of the modern culture war and even now we’re in the midst of reconfiguring the way we work.
Few things were constant, but she was one of them.
As I sit and write this, it still hasn’t sunk in that Queen Elizabeth has died.
It’s odd and possibly against human psychology to accept change so readily, yet millennials do. Yet the Queen’s death is something I’m not quite wrapping my head around. According to my brain, it’s just Thursday. The Queen has been one of the few constants in my life that the idea that she’s no longer here and that a King now rules the UK is so foreign is something that’s going to take some getting used to, and I’m not even a UK citizen.
In a very distant way, her majesty has always been a part of my life. I remember there being talk about her on the television when I was at my grandparent’s house. I’d hear stories of kings and queens all the time and was ecstatic to learn that there still was one. Despite the fact that we were American, the Queen was always afforded some level of respect.
I can remember the day that Princess Diana died and I watched the Queen speak about it on television. I’ve watched various Christmas addresses and waited for her to arrive at the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. My generation voraciously consumed media that featured her be it the introduction to the Olympics to fun little skits she would do for celebrations.
Many of us, including my wife and I, tuned into Netflix’s “The Crown” which centers around Queen Elizabeth, and it still remains one of Netflix’s most streamed shows.
Even here in the U.S., she was “The Queen.” While we Americans do not accept monarchical rule (as romantic as it is for some) she was still someone we considered a beloved maternal authority, like a distant grandmother that we were always delighted to hear from. We would never obey her orders but if The Queen asked an American to accomplish a task for her, few of us would reply with “you’re not my supervisor.” Even as a staunch advocate for the constitutional republic and a guy who sees monarchies as an outdated form of government, I would be thrilled to even be asked.
Most of us would hop to, and merrily. It’s incredibly difficult to win that kind of adoration internationally, but she managed to do it, and one of the ways she accomplished was her ability to maintain.
Things changed, but she didn’t. She was the constant. A rock. People in the generation before mine lived and died knowing nothing but Queen Elizabeth as the reigning monarch in the UK.
Now, she’s one more thing that changed and her change will result in serious turbulence.
Change is always inevitable. The Queen was never going to be there forever and after reigning for so long I think she deserved rest and to be reunited with her husband Phillip. I hope the comfort and normalcy that she brought my generation will be paid back to her in the afterlife.
It’s highly unlikely that we will see someone or something like Queen Elizabeth again. Her story was unique, and so is her legacy. I’m happy that I was able to bear witness to at least some of it.