Reuters, “Queen Tells Off Berlusconi” (2009)
That woman! Decked out in a rose gown, sitting atop the long process of civilization, the embodiment of that process, the end point of that process. How could anyone, who is not totally insane, believe herself to be a queen? And not just any ordinary queen: the Queen of England! How could this band of men, triumphant in their cynical pursuit for power and prestige, driven by great ambition and extraordinary narcissism towards a totally alienated life — how can they really believe that an extravagant old woman dressed in pink is a Queen?
How could a man (even if only as tall as a child), one of the richest men in the world, possessing any number of powers, allow himself to be scolded by an old auntie in pink? Where does this woman derive her power? Does it really exist?
“What is it? Why does he have to shout?” she says. What moves the little old auntie in pink to say these words? Why did she have to put Berlusconi in his place? Because she couldn’t let an ordinary man ridicule the grandeur of her inherited office? She is one with what she symbolizes, and so that symbol is the very source of her existence. The power of monarchy is delicate, fragile; it needs to maintain its distance to be preserved, susceptible as it is to the slightest irreverence, ready to wilt at the slightest touch.
This is the function of etiquette—the apparatus that so governs the life of the epical English. Distance is in itself their difference. Merely achieving the appearance of difference, an inherited privilege may became an ontological status. The pink lady — in appearance sane — really believes herself to be a queen, and her reaction is no less ridiculous than the petit bourgeois excitedly calling out Mister Obaaaaaaaaaaaaa-maaaaaaaaa. That little man is as ordinary as I am. Why shouldn’t he shout?
- Marco Pitzalis