God Save the Queen

In an alcoholic stupor, I once called Queen Elizabeth II a bitch … out loud and in front of a few of her subjects… military officers in her service specifically. After what seemed like a 12 pack of Foster’s oil cans and Victoria Bitter, I disparaged her royal highness. Back story is important here… don’t want people thinking that I call British royalty names for no reason. In all honesty, I was defending American honor by verbally assaulting the Queen.

While a captain in the US Army, I attended what is called the Field Artillery Officer’s Advance Course (FAOAC) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This course was not only attended by young US military officers, but a number of our allies were also in attendance. I distinctly remember a Czech army officer… always stating he didn’t understand the instruction, thus never forced to complete any assignment, and a Saudi Arabian army officer… who married a large buxom blonde from Oklahoma… wonder how her life turned out.

Not only were numerous military students from foreign countries, but a number of the instructors were also from other countries… specifically British Commonwealth countries. The US military has an exchange program with our allies that allows different countries to send instructors to different military schools… all in the name of cooperation. My primary instructor was Canadian, and other instructors included an Australian and a Brit. Good solid… and proficient… artillerymen. Unfortunately, like most British Commonwealth military officers, there was a hint of superiority… as if their countries’ history of warfare allowed them to look down their noses at us “colonists”… for the record the Canadians and Aussies are colonists too… just didn’t have the balls to gain independence as early as the Americans did… and they still attach themselves to the Queen’s apron strings.

At one of the numerous get-togethers, students and instructors mingled over beers and a grill covered in meat… it was Oklahoma. After a copious amount of beer, my Canadian instructor decided to liven the party by bringing out a bottle of Canadian whisky… typical mixed batch of shit that burned the nose and watered the eye. Somewhere between getting the whisky and the gathering of Americans and Commonwealth officers a gauntlet was thrown. “Americans don’t know how to drink.”… simple statement that garnered the obvious response… “fuck you.”

I had served with British and Commonwealth soldiers before. I had deployed with them for training in Germany… the Queen’s Own Hussars… proud soldiers who weren’t afraid to drink a beer and fire a weapon. Later, I served and soldiered with the 1st Royal Horse Artillery near Glamoc, Bosnia… they had traded their horses a long time ago for self-propelled howitzers. Again proud soldiers who weren’t afraid. These soldiers, however, had one thing in common… they looked back on their regimental and unit history with an air of superiority that bordered on rude. Pride and service to their Queen ran deeply, and they never failed to inform you of some historical moment when their unit had served gallantly for King or Queen… it usually was dated in a time prior to the birth of America. The common American response… other than “fuck you”… was asking them the last time they won a war without American assistance. Brits have a better track record than our French colleagues… cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

So my response to the “Americans don’t know how to drink” challenge evoked a quick response from me and a couple of my fellow American Army captains… two immediately jump to mind and both were of Irish descent… we were not going to let this challenge go without a good ol’ American try. The whisky was quickly consumed with Foster’s and VB chasers. In the midst of this, stupid reindeer games commenced… one included a grown-ass man (and an Army officer) attempting to ride a small child’s wagon down a hill while standing and pounding a beer. When military officers gather… regardless of nationality… crazy frivolity abounds.

Through it all, we Americans gave a good showing by matching our Commonwealth colleagues drink for drink… good-natured insults ensued… physical challenges given… challenges met. Then young (28 years-old) Captain Sublimemonkey decided to raise the bar after hearing one too many insults specifically directed toward America, the American South specifically. Slow, dim-witted, droll, common… all words used to describe my heritage. In a gaggle of drunk United Nations’ military officers, I stated in an extremely slurred speech the ultimate insult to our Commonwealth allies…. the Queen is a bitch.

The moment was one for the crickets… dead silence. My American colleagues inhaled quickly and waited… my Commonwealth allies eyed me quickly. Then laughter poured forth from everyone gathered… the moment passed… Captain Sublimemonkey was being his typical obnoxious self. An Aussie handed me another VB and patted me on the back… but I am sure he plotted my murder. The rest of the evening, even with continued drinking and stupid reindeer games, moved uneventfully. I don’t remember getting home… but I do remember waking up in my pitch black garage in a pool of the night before’s beer and whisky. Any night that results in that is a good night of drinking… but I was sorry for disparaging the Queen… sorry for insulting one of the reasons my Commonwealth friends serve.

Queen Elizabeth II just celebrated her Diamond Jubilee (60 years)… Queen Victoria is the only British monarch to have served longer. Countless men have marched forth under the British royal banner, generations of British youth have died serving their royal, country, and God. Commentators state that the Queen represents continuity and the British ideal of the stiff upper lip. For others she represents a reason to serve, and in some cases die.

To my fellow British Commonwealth military personnel, veterans, and others… I apologize. The Queen is not a bitch. The Queen represents your countries, heritage, and history. I can not disparage a man’s service to those things. The Queen’s Own Hussars’ motto is “Nec Aspera Terrent” (Nor do difficulties deter)… one can’t be deterred when one knows their service is to God, Country, and Queen.

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