Leap of Faith: What would Rebecca say about the troubles
When I became a British citizen, I affirmed the following oath of allegiance: “I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors according to law.”
As a Frenchman, it seemed rather strange to swear allegiance to a monarch, considering our somewhat ambiguous history with the idea of monarchy, but it was the right thing to do.
The Queen embodies the spirit and genius of my adoptive country I have the utmost respect for Her Majesty and her longstanding leadership and service to the United Kingdom.
Get The Jewish News Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up
The monarchic principle entails that the Head of the State is also the head of a family whose destiny it is to rule, whichever way power is wielded. The behaviour of the family members is under constant scrutiny; they have no privacy, and the price they have to pay for their many privileges is dear. Every failure becomes a matter of State, and the Queen must keep her family in line.
It is fair to say that every family is dysfunctional in one way or another. But very few families have their shortcomings displayed in the open, on the front pages of newspapers, or commented on by experts. When Harry passed through London recently, he had tea with his grandmother. He said about the visit that he wanted to ensure that she was surrounded by the right people, implying that the Queen, after 70 years on the throne, could not fend for herself anymore.
All the issues that have surrounded the royal family recently have fallen on the shoulders of a woman grieving the loss of her lifelong partner, Prince Philip. The love between the Queen and her husband is akin to the love between Rebecca and Isaac. When his mother Sarah died, the Torah says: “Isaac brought Rebecca into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebecca. So, she became his wife, and he loved her. Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Genesis 24: 67).
When their sons Esau and Jacob grew up and became rivals, Isaac and Rebecca each a took different route and supported a different child, with the consequences we know. Rebecca helped her favourite, Jacob, trick his father and ‘steal’ his brother’s berachah (blessing) from Isaac.
Likewise we can only guess at how it must have been difficult for the Queen and her husband to witness and manage the collapse of three of their children’s marriages and regular scandals and controversies, most recently the well-documented Harry and Meghan saga and serious allegations of sexual assault made against her son Andrew.
So what advice would Rebecca give to the Queen? She would probably acknowledge that it is difficult, impossible even, to lead a normal dysfunctional family life when the stakes are so high, but at least, she had a long and fulfilled relationship with her husband to support her.