A couple of weeks ago I sent the
following letter to Queen Elizabeth:
Following is a story your Majesty may find amusing, particularly as it
involves her late father.
In the summer of 1941 I was a nine-year-old Jewish escapee from the
Holocaust. The year before, my mother
and I had escaped from occupied Poland in rather dramatic fashion, the event
subsequently recounted in a number of books, and were living in New York with
my uncle, the artist Arthur Szyk, known to your Majesty’s parents.
Sent to summer camp in Massachusetts to learn the language and become
Americanized, I learned to sing the British national anthem which we did in
support of the struggle your country was waging at the time. And, much to my satisfaction, I found that I
understood almost all the words. I even
realized that “reign” couldn’t possibly mean “rain.”
Where I did have to do some speculation, however, was in the line, “Send
him victorious, happy, and glorious.”
Neither “victorious” nor “glorious” were words I had yet
encountered. But I knew about Queen Victoria, and it did not take a genius
to realize that “Victorious” must be the masculine form of the same given name.
Further reasoning led to the conclusion that this Victorious must be a historical figure, some Lancelot who had, most
likely, saved Britain once and was being called on to come to the aid of the
beleaguered king. The same went for Glorious, and, to this day, I visualize
King George on his throne, flanked by the heroic Victorious and Glorious
resplendent in their armor.
And as for Happy, well every
nine-year-old knew him to be one of the Seven Dwarfs, and any nation that drew
its inspiration from Disney as well as history could not be conquered by the
likes of Hitler.
I have no idea whether the queen has seen or ever will see my letter. But I will watch closely any future television of her majesty attending to the playing of “God Save the Queen” for
any signs of her experiencing difficulty maintaining her composure.