October 3, 2023

A Clean Hoodie for the Queen

Guest Opinion
By Mary Keyes Rogers | Sept. 17, 2022

I am more of a British history buff than a modern-day royals watcher and consider the reign of Queen Elizabeth II to be of great historic significance. You will find me following the related series of events with a bowl of popcorn in one hand and a well-pressed handkerchief in the other.

As I write this, I am immersed in the first official event following the queen’s passing: the Public Service of Remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London attended by the prime minister, senior government officials, and the first 2,000 members of the public in line to receive a ticket.

Take note that these members of the public made an effort to attend. They didn’t stumble into a random church and remark, “Oh, look, I’m at a solemn prayer service marking the death of the Queen of England. Cool.”

After King Charles III’s address, the service began. As the television camera scanned the faces of the seated mourners, I was initially surprised by the number of gentlemen in attendance who had chosen to forgo the whole suit and tie thing. Hmm. Lots of open collars. I found that a bit of a disappointment. I admit to missing the time when we dressed to show our respect for certain occasions. I also miss when our attire demonstrated respect for others and appropriateness for place and person. I do appreciate fancy and have a healthy respect for the schmancy.

As you can imagine, I am no fan of travelers on airplanes wearing pajamas.

Twenty minutes or so into The Service of Prayer and Reflection, led by the Bishop of London, some of the lucky public ticket holders—I mean, mourners—seemed to have lost interest in the singing and praying and were stretching and swaying their upturned, slack-jawed heads across their bodies to check out the cathedral’s architecture. These are adults, not children. It looked as if they were in a bus station looking for the schedule posted on a wall.

In the background, I saw a slouching woman looking bored but very comfortable wearing a hoodie, her long blonde hair secured in a knot on top of her head with what may have been a bone. Earlier in the day, this woman prepared herself for the day, looked in the mirror, decided this was the right look, and headed on over to St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen of England’s Service of Remembrance.

Are you kidding me? Is this who we are now? Did she take the time to look for a clean hoodie? Was she wearing fuzzy slippers?

After putting my eyeballs back in my face, I realized she was not alone. The hoodie and T-shirt crowd were well represented in St. Paul’s. Princess Di was called “The People’s Princess” for a reason.

The queen loved her subjects, but they were expected to dress properly in her presence.

Not everything can be casual. Casual clothing. Casual behavior. Casual interest in making a good impression. My tears are falling into the Sea of Casualisokay.

True, this was only a prayer service, not the funeral itself. But is it asking too much that you might not wear the same outfit you would to wash the bathroom floor?

Does the death of Queen Elizabeth II serve as the bookend to an era of civilized behavior and good manners? I believe that the monarchy will release a bit of air from the stuffiness, putting aside some of the protocols while attempting to retain the majesty.

During Elizabeth II’s reign, the standards of behavior in society have taken a steep decline. Due to her advanced age, she was able to personally continue the graces of decorum from her childhood in the 1930s and 40s into the 21st century. It was her nature, and she always brought out courteous behavior in others. (Even Donald Trump demurred in her presence.)

Society used to observe the difference between private and public behavior. How we dress, how we speak, and even our posture. We knew how and when to “clean up.” Our parents, no matter how much money they did or didn’t have, made sure we were dressed appropriately.

Have parents given up? I can remember my father sending me and my sister back to our rooms, time after time, to change our clothes until he approved. We had a constant volley of him saying “No blue jeans!” to our “Why not?”

“You don’t need to dress like royalty,” he’d say. “Just don’t be a slob.”

Mary Keyes Rogers, a Traverse City resident of more than 20 years, hosted the daily talk radio show Mary in the Morning, launched Marigold Women in Business, and has held executive positions in many civic and business leaders’ local, regional, and national organizations.


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