With Diamond Jubilee celebrations unfurling across the world, The Daily Beast has published a sweeping essay on the evolution of Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with the media, and pop culture. Here’s an excerpt:
Like so much in British life—scones, soccer, the Battle of Agincourt—the story of the queen’s relationship to pop culture comes in two parts. The first unfolds in a state of siege. In 1977 the Sex Pistols rhyme “queen” with “fascist regime” on “God Save the Queen,” cut-and-pasting her image, ransom-note style, onto the cover. The BBC bans the record and it goes to No. 2 on the charts, marking a new low in public protocol toward the royals. A new era of pop-cultural plunder dawns. The queen is paraded in comic effigy by the makers of the TV show Spitting Image, flattened into a silk-screen by Andy Warhol, rugby-tackled by Leslie Nielsen in 1988′s The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, and mooned by Mike Myers in 2002′s Goldmember. Both comics are Canadians, citizens of the Commonwealth. Her Majesty is not—as they say—amused.
Then comes Diana, or more important, Elton John’s rendition of “Candle in the Wind” at Diana’s funeral: an unprecedented pop flourish amid the solemn protocols and processionals of Westminster Abbey. Diana leaves behind her two young princes, trailing iPods, iPads, and Nintendo game consoles around the palace. The queen’s secretary lets it be known that Her Majesty is “addicted” to Nintendo, and when the movie The Queen comes out, she receives Stephen Frears, the director, and its star, Helen Mirren, for tea.
Read the full piece here.