The Column: They have their queen, and I got mine
OK, things have gone too far.
The Queen got COVID-19.
Symptoms were reportedly slight, and she’s over it now — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada paid a visit, unmasked. But still, the 95-year-old British monarch caught the bug.
First, I want to know, how is this possible?
If you can’t keep a pandemic from the Queen of England, what hope is there, anyway?
No word as to exactly where she picked up the infection, but Elizabeth, a plucky soul who now uses a walking stick, had been meeting and greeting all sorts of VIPs.
Hello, palace staff.
When the big shots were coming through, anybody check vaccinations? Insist on a rapid test? Slip plexiglass between Her Highness and the pooh-bahs? Even one of those shields attached to the queen’s famous bonnets might have done the trick. Yes, she’d briefly look like an astronaut, but better safe than sorry.
We are not talking here about Charles or Camilla, after all, and certainly not Andrew, who got mixed up with the unsavory financier Jeffrey Epstein, for goodness’ sake. This, let’s keep in mind, was Herself. The Queen.
Still, somehow, she got it.
It is mighty tempting to blame Boris Johnson, the rumpled British prime minister who looks like he combs his hair with an immersion blender, for ending all pandemic rules in England, I suppose, but that doesn’t make sense, either.
Not easily can you imagine Elizabeth on the town — jammed into the chic Cuckoo Club on hip-hop night or pumping iron with gym rats at Fitness First near London Bridge.
No, that is not possible.
Whatever happened, the Queen of England — fully vaccinated and boosted, according to The Associated Press — turned up positive.
Her speedy recovery was fortuitous in more ways than one. This is Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne and all kinds of "Platinum Jubilee" events are planned.
Heading toward 100, Elizabeth might have said "foo" to the platinum, switched on "All Creatures Great and Small" and instructed supplicants to "leave me with haste," as per Shakespeare in "Julius Caesar."
But, as noted, she’s a trouper and not inclined to shirk official duty. Even before Trudeau arrived, Elizabeth was holding virtual audiences with the ambassadors of Chad (in north-central Africa) and Andorra (between France and Spain). The British lived through World War II, remember. Everything has been a breeze by comparison.
Ordinarily, I am not interested in the royals.
My wife made me watch "The Crown" and tricked me into a long weekend in London several years ago — I do not like to travel and consider New Jersey a foreign adventure — that came complete with a glimpse of Buckingham Palace.
Still, I remain staunchly anti-investiture. But this case is different.
For one thing, though I am younger, I am in the Queen’s Bronze Age demographic and still devoting myself to ducking COVID-19. I love my doctor — nice young guy who speaks fast and doesn’t wear socks in summer — but have the feeling Elizabeth enjoyed medical care beyond what most of us might expect.
And the other thing is this: Queen Elizabeth of Windsor Castle looks exactly like my mother, Winnie Bruning of Lincoln Place, Brooklyn. Not a little "like," I should make clear, but separated-at-birth identical.
"Wow," my kids say. "The Queen’s a dead-ringer for Granny."
"Rosy cheeks, cute smile."
"Even the frumpy handbag."
"And those little heels."
"The flying saucer hats — exactly the same."
It’s not just the physical resemblance and clothing. It’s the spirit.
Once Mom fell and broke her hip.
She got it fixed. A few months later, I asked what she had done on the weekend.
"Out with Aunt Edna," she said, mentioning her dear friend, Edna Barrett.
Yes, I wondered aloud, and what did you do?
"Took a walk in the city," said Mom, meaning Manhattan.
"Well, we started on Wall Street and ended up at Central Park."
Distance: Close to five miles.
"Quite a hike, Mom," I said. "Especially in those shoes."
"We took the subway home," she joked.
Royalty without the crown is the way we remember Mom — kindhearted and with respect for all. Plumber or prime minister, would have made no difference. Everyone was welcomed for an audience on Lincoln Place.