|The Queen meets the American President and First Lady at Windsor Castle, 13 July 2018 (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)|
In September 2015, as the Queen neared yet another royal record – becoming Britain’s longest-reigning monarch – the historian David Starkey paid tribute to the sovereign’s careful, non-controversial approach to her role, dubbing her “Elizabeth the Silent.”
Indeed, silence has been a hallmark of Queen’s six decades on the throne. In a world where everyone seems to have an opinion on every subject, the Queen has been resolutely tight-lipped about hers. She does not share her personal political views with the rest of us; the only hints we’ve gotten of her politics have come second-hand, through the whispers of party-goers, courtiers, and even the occasional indiscreet prime minister, never confirmed and never clarified. Andrew Marr wrote in 2012 that the Queen “has never ‘confessed’ or reinvented herself. When something hurtful or wrong is reported she bites her tongue. As a young woman she was a global superstar, but she does not play to the media in a gushing way and certainly does not court them.” In a monarchical world where image is everything, Marr argues, the Queen simply “has no image” at all.
This silence—this lack of defined image—allows for much interpretation. The Queen is a cipher: she can be everything or nothing at the same time. Since she doesn’t express her own feelings, thoughts and opinions are often assigned to her. She becomes a sort of mirror, reflecting back any opinion that the holder wishes to project upon her.
And that brings us to the matter at hand. This week, the press has gone wild over one of these projections, a theory that argues that the Queen hasn’t actually been silent at all – but instead has been telegraphing us secret messages about her politics. Her preferred method of expression? Her jewelry – specifically, her enormous collection of brooches, the glittering ornaments that she pins to her coat or dress for nearly every public engagement.
Unsurprisingly, this new theory about the politics of Elizabeth II’s jewelry has come courtesy of two of the defining entities of 2018: Twitter and Donald Trump.