“Do you want to be Queen for a Day?” For over 20 years in the 1950s and ’60s, host Jack Bailey asked this question of early TV viewers. As a little girl watching “Queen for a Day” on our black-and-white TV, the hope of being a queen for even a day was a Cinderella dream.
My father called my mother the Tennis Queen, not so much endearingly — more so mockingly. She and her partner Betty were the only ladies who played tennis every morning in good weather on the cracked and weedy town courts in the 1950s and ’60s. That’s the only queen she would ever be.
I dreamt of being Rodeo Queen. Every year I watched the crowned rodeo queen on her horse at a fast run, carrying roses, and waving to the crowd as she rounded the rodeo arena. I thought I could do that, if only … The only queen I ever was, in reality, was the Queen of Hearts at the senior year Valentines Dance. I tried to do that in secret because I wasn’t supposed to be a queen of any kind.
The TV show “Queen for a Day” was a precursor to the reality television we see today. Each episode consisted of three to four women competitors. They revealed personal stories to which the audience decided which was the most heart-warming by use of an applause-o-meter. The winner was crowned Queen for a Day and received gifts such as appliances and a multitude of other prizes.
Jack Bailey always ended the show with the sign-off, “Make every woman a queen for every single day.” Good advice.
For 70 years, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was Queen Elizabeth II every single day. It is hard to imagine a 25-year-old becoming a queen of a Commonwealth of seven countries. However, years earlier when Princess Elizabeth turned 21 while on a royal trip to South Africa (knowing her destiny to be queen), she had spoken with conviction, “I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
She made good on that promise until the old age of 96. She never waivered in her belief of her responsibilities as queen under “The Crown.”
There are a few other queens I thought of in reflection on this column. There’s Queen, the rock group led by Freddie Mercury. He chose the name “Queen” because “[i]t’s very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid.”
The queen bee is the star of the hive. She is the only female in a colony of 50,000-60,000 bees with fully developed ovaries. Her two primary purposes are to produce chemical scents that help regulate the unity of the colony and to lay lots of eggs. A queen bee lives only a few years (approximately two to five) — certainly not 96 — but much longer than her worker bees and drones!
Lewis Carroll describes his Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” as “a blind fury.” She is quick to give a death sentence at the slightest offense. “Off with her head,” she shouted at a fearful Alice. Even in a fantastical wonderland, she was not a beloved queen.
The queen is the most powerful piece in the game of chess. She is able to move any number of squares in any direction. The modern queen gained its power and its modern move in Spain in the 15th century. Queen Isabella I was reigning at the time and possessed great political power, perhaps inspiring the chess queen’s powerful role.
RIP, Queen Elizabeth.