take me to wanderland
When I was a child, I hated history.
I know that’s difficult to believe. Me, the girl who was presented with a Bachelor’s degree that noted a history minor, who spent the majority of university as a double-major in the subject. This from the girl who can name off all 45 presidents as easily as people discuss athletes and does Google searches on Ireland in the 18th century or the biography of Lully for fun. And the girl who spent half a day in the Eisenhower Museum, reading everything.
But, there it is, written in black ink from eight year old me, declaring to the memory book sitting in a drawer that history was my least-loved subject in school.
Well, it was, anyway - until two years after the date of entry.
Mrs. Frederick’s fifth grade history class was unlike any I’d been in before. Instead of reading about the Pilgrims, we became them. Rather than memorize facts about the Revolutionary War, we acted it out. It was the first time I loved being in history class.
It was also the year that began my love of royalty.
In fourth grade, I’d been Anne Frank for the school’s Wax Museum. It was fascinating to read about her and hear the word Holocaust for the first time, but the experience was lost in a volcano of reports and presentations, or trying to build La Purisma mission at the last minute out of a cereal box and a paper towel roll (thanks so much for helping, Aunt Judy.)
But that year, the Wax Museum roles were distributed differently. Mrs. Fredericks didn’t assign us historical characters. She spread out a stack of biographies on the table and told us to pick one, of course going by last name. By the time this W was allowed to choose, there were few options left and many books about males. I wondered who the redheaded female was that boasted an unfamiliar name.
So I researched her, as we were required to do in order to accurately represent our figures in the Wax Museum.
Queen Elizabeth I.
Thus began my love of English history, fascination of all things Tudor and my second A in the Wax Museum. Over the years, I read a plethora of novels about Good Queen Bess, her siblings, her parents, her siblings’ cousins and anything else I could find. I watched every version any production company ever made, both in television and movies. In a high school World History Honors course, I wrote a resume and references for Elizabeth. And I told myself that one day, I’d see Hampton Court Palace and walk through the Tower of London.
My readings of Elizabeth led me to other royals, particularly Mary Stuart, Anastasia, Isabel, Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra and the other girls of The Royal Diaries. I learned about Victoria, Catherine the Great, the Medicis, Diana and Elizabeth II.
Then, while I was in university, Prince William married Catherine Middleton. I didn’t have a TV and wasn’t one of the 300 million viewers, but my mom and sister were. It was Mom who informed me the Duchess was pregnant with her first child, and it was after that announcement that I started to research Kate and her relationship with Will.
So, really, you can blame my mother for my love of the Cambridges, Princess Eugenie, the Duchess of Sussex, Pippa Middleton Matthews and the entire BRF.
Before you go pointing out that our forefathers fought in a great war so that we could separate ourselves from the UK and all its royalty - I know. I also know that many of the same forefathers were initially quite proud to be Englishmen and only became vexed at George III’s high taxation without representation. How do I know this? Because I’m a history buff who willingly took more than the required three classes in high school.
And it all started with Elizabeth I.
So while it may be odd that I know Prince William is currently visiting the West Bank after he toured Israel and that Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex were with the queen yesterday to celebrate the Queen’s Young Leaders from the Commonwealth, or that Kate was the tour de force behind Heads Together, just remember that if it weren’t for the royals, I probably wouldn’t know that William Howard Taft hated being president.
I certainly wouldn’t care that despite his overwhelmingly popular presidency, Andrew Jackson was a garbage disposal of a man.
And I couldn’t tell you that Thomas Jefferson took many of his ideas in the Declaration of Independence from the Frenchman, Montesquieu and the Englishman, John Locke.