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Bubbe Elizabeth the Second

When did the Queen of England, star of the Olympic opening ceremony, become a Jewish grandmother?

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Queen Elizabeth II speaks during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Most 86-year-old women, whatever their ethnic persuasion, do not arrive at important events via helicopter parachute, escorted by a hot piece like Daniel Craig; many of them can’t even stand up in the shower anymore. But everything else, from the ongepotchket peach lace dress to the passive-aggressive “oy, mein back” shuffle to the seats to that face, seemingly caught constantly in mid-kvetch, saying “For this you made me come out in the middle of the night, sitting outside in the rain like a dog?” Not a trace of her former impersonal friendliness, of smiling Gentile stoicism, remained. At the Olympic opening ceremony, somewhere in between the coal miners performing a Dickensian rendition of the “Stool Boom” number from Waiting for Guffman and the interpretive dance salute to the National Health Service, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, became the whole world’s bitchy Jewish bubbe. I half expected her to take an ancient sucking candy from that famous purse of hers and unwrap it loudly during the moment of silence “for everyone” that the IOC creepily rammed into the ceremony at the last minute.

Was she like this all along? The question of any stray Jewish heritage within the British Royal Family has been explored mainly by the British Israelite movement—for the most part a cheerful and benign group of loonies who since the time of Queen Victoria have held that the Ten Lost Tribes somehow found their way to the sceptered isles, where they became the progenitors of the British people, making the Windsors direct-line descendants of King David—and the usual bunch of anti-Semitic Internet crazies who believe that everyone in a position of power today is somehow a secret Rothschild taking part in a crypto-Zionist Judeo-Bolshevist conspiracy to control the world.

Whether it’s the Jewish question of her own family, or indeed, in any other capacity, the queen’s personal views on the Chosen People are, as on all other matters, a mystery. The princess royal “regrets to say that she has never been to Israel”—as it was written to me in the letter I received from her male secretary (early feminist click moment, there) when I wrote to her for a school project at my Jewish Day School in approximately 1988 in a manner so politely chagrined I was ashamed I had asked. Prince Philip has been to the Jewish state, albeit in an unofficial capacity, when his mother Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark was honored as one of the Righteous of Nations, and of all the many, many, many groups, ethnic or otherwise, upon which he has aired, shall we say, impolitic remarks over his equally numerous years in the public eye, Jews have, almost shockingly, not been among them.

On the other hand, well, let’s just say it’s not missing any fingers. Prince Harry’s youthful swastika-wearing may have been a genuinely innocent, and well-atoned-for, joke gone wrong, but the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s habitual Heil Hitler’s certainly were not. And even the cuddly Queen Mother, the Lots O’ Huggin’ Bear of the British aristocracy, had, typically of her time and class, plenty of not-so-nice things to say about the Jews behind closed doors. More recently, the late Princess Margaret became so discombobulated at a dinner party by comedian and U.K. national treasure Stephen Fry’s admission of matrilineal descent that she allegedly started screaming: “He’s a Jew! He’s a Jew!” to the assembled guests. Although, to be fair, the issue was a touchy subject for Margaret; the most memorable note of several her vengeful ex-husband Lord Snowdon apparently left around the house for her to find in the waning days of their marriage read: “You look like a Jewish manicurist and I hate you.”

It’s an observation not totally out of left field. When you look at pictures of the aged Princess Margaret, sans tiara and imperial sash, she does look not unlike your mother’s cousin Frieda who started doing nails after her divorce from that schmuck with the dry cleaner. Similarly, if there’s a more classic example of the archetypal nebbish than the young Prince Charles, I have yet to see him. Of course, one could argue that rather than Jewish, they just look German, perhaps lending some credence to Kafka’s famous assertion that these two groups are far more inextricably linked than either is entirely comfortable with, but that’s a whole rabbit-hole of head-measuring pseudo-science I don’t even want to get into.

The point is the queen, and her increasing forays into Judaic grumpiness of late: the shpilkes at the opening ceremony, the hissy fit with Annie Leibowitz, the open disapproval for the “creepiness” of the headless mannequin wearing Kate Middleton’s wedding dress that someone put right in the middle of her living room. Has she been hanging out with Camilla’s friend Joan Rivers lately? Or is she just really, really old? Which itself raises the question: Do Jews act like old people or do old people all act like Jews? Are we just born without the self-censoring part of the brain that takes other people eight decades and/or a massive stroke to attain, or is there something in the pool water at the indoor aquatic aerobics classes? Which came first, the suffering or the refusal to do it in silence?

As for Her Madge, if at the closing ceremony she starts complaining about the angle of the chair back and would it kill them to get her a cold glass of water, but not too cold, because oy, it bothers her dentures, I guess we’ll see if the Bubbification of the Sovereign is complete. In the meantime, pass the sucking candy and G-d save the Queen.


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Jayson2 says:

Congratulations Ms. Shukert, you’ve managed to write the stupidest artice of all time.

    bernardbaum says:

    To Jayson: What’s that Jewish expression…? Oh yeah…. Lighten up .

      It’s nice to say lighten up or to be able to say it, but, when crap is in your face it’s really hard to hear that. It was difficult for me to read this with the stereotypes, knowing some neo-nazi is gonna half read it at their klan meet-up and use it as fuel.
      FYI, they aren’t actually Windsors.

        Yes, Brian, I’m sure that Tablet is must-reading for neo-Nazis. After Bon Appetit and Cigar Aficianado. And, you’re correct…they’re not Windsors…they’re of the House of Hanover, which in the very distant future becomes House Harkonen

          corey949 says:

          Thanks for elucidating the Harkonen connection. I knew it wasn’t The House of Mirth.

bernardbaum says:

Nu?….Considering the House Royal bloodline reputedly extends back to the House of David (yes OUR David), You have to ask?….what’s so surprising ?

    Paula Bojsen says:

    Seriously? Where is that written?

      I take this all with a giant grain of salt but in doing my family genealogy one of my 3rd gr grandmothers traces back to this line referred to as the Babylonian Exhilarch line. King Charles Martel of France allegedly sent an emissary to the Caliph requesting a member of the Exhilarch line to marry his daughter Aulda and there by bring the alleged line of David into the royal line. But King John Lackland (Richard the Lionheart’s brother and my 19th gr grandfather….OY, I was afraid I’d find a horse thief :) also said he was descended from the line of David this marriage is why royalty makes the claim.

Pleeze this article is so very disrespectful of Queen Elizabeth that it hurts and is embarrassing. For a MOT author Rachel Shukert’s use of verbal anti-Semitic images just adds fuel to the fire. Doesn’t Tablet have any editorial control over what it publishes?

Gail Wides says:

I know this is supposed to be funny, but maybe, just maybe we could stop validating shop-worn stereotypes of Jewish women. I’m not a Jewish grandmother yet, but I know a lot of them – including my children’s grandmothers – one is an artist and one was a civil rights activist. Neither could ever be described as a bitchy Jewish bubbe – rather as loving, supportive inspirational bubbes. Recently, at the annual women’s seder I attend, there were three generations of women. Everyone offered memories of seders past. It was such a privilege to hear the powerful stories of the grandmothers there – Jewish children who still have their grandmothers should perhaps try to know them better. Bubbes shouldn’t be relegated to a stereotype – the ones I know are dynamic, active, interesting people who adore their grandchildren. Hope I can be one someday

Pip Power says:

Shalom, salaam & how’s she cutting?

Whatever the claim of the British Israelite movement to Israel, the shower of fcukers in Israel have NO claim at all.

Did these sons of whores ever read Deuteronomy chapters 27 & 28? The offer of THE LAND is CONDITIONAL.

As it stands, ISRAELIS have NOT fulfilled the CONDITIONS.


Yet another good reason to stop reading Slate. Er, I mean Salon. D’oh! TABLET. Yeah, that’s it.

James LaForest

Hey, Rachel, I thought your article was a hoot. There is the unanswered question of “are they or aren’t they?” about the royals, and I had read that their men used to be circumcised, until Diana stopped the practice. Also, the usual nickname of “David,” which was present in several generations of Edwards, Georges, and so on…was the Duke of Windsor the David of his generation? I can’t remember (but it was in the King’s Speech)…anyway, the speculation exists. All that notwithstanding, I’d give the lady a pass. Very few women become Betty White as they get older…

Not funny, and filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes that would not be tolerated if written by a non-Jew.

    Calorus says:

    Yeah, but it wasn’t. Everybody has the right to take the mick out of their own…

yes… I thought you were going to actually say something!

That’s hilarious. There are stereotypes for every nationality and race and they can be funny if people would just have a sense of humor for once. Nowadays political correctness seems to run things and people overreact to everything. My grandmother’s maiden name was Wise and I keep wishing that I would find that we were Jewish.

    William Winkler says:

    William Winkler ( Son of Europe)
    I couldn’t agree more, a self depreciating sense of humor is a Jewish thing ,it is very original, whatever happened to freedom of speech ? Galgen Humor ??
    North America is full of smug,morally Superior left wing Liberals who should get a life. If you can not laugh at yourself some times, may be you have lost some marbles along the way.
    My family tree counting 400+ years shows some definite Jewish genetic connection and during my 45 years in the ” New World” I have always enjoyed
    the company of Jewish people, from any part of the globe.
    It’s all about body language , being a Mensch or being a Schmuck. It is all your choice, take a pick.
    Rock on Rachel Shukert and Jean Terry.
    This Tablet is good medicine for normal people.

      No, north America is full of neo nazi thugs who anonymously distribute their literature into our yards. Otherwise, we’d have a sense of humor.
      Just sayin.

Actually, in reading some of the comments I am even more amazed at peoples’
sensitivity. We actually do all go back to the House of David or at least Abraham so we are all Jewish if you ask me. God bless the Jewish people and God bless us all.

Miltonb says:

People, lighten up. This article is very funny and plays on a stereotype. So what? It’s all in fun. It’s not the author’s intention to degrade Jews here. She’s just having fun.

Calling echt goym a Rebbe get old after a while.

Find another joke, people.

Who the fluck are you to be perpetuating Jewish stereotypes, you miserable, filthy, self-hating Jew. You are a disgrace to Jews and to Jewish womanhood. This article and the entire idea behind it makes me puke. You’ve lost a subscriber.

Pam Green says:

I’ve always read that the Windsors ARE German and changed their name to sound more English.

    N. Mara Czarnecki says:

    That’s true. They were the Hannovers or something like that.

Has it occurred to you that she may not be able to see properly?

Margaret Reines says:

Great article! Congrats Rachel again, You nay-sayers need to lighten up! I wonder if the negative responses would have been different if a man had writen the same article,

Why is she looking as if she swallowed a snake? She should make an effort to look pleasant; it’s the Olympics in London, after all. They said that during the opening ceremony she didn’t even look up to see the British team but was instead picking her nails? And she may be 85, but why does she have to look like she’s wearing ill-fitting bedspreads?

Prince Philip’s mother was not Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark. Prince Andrew was his father. His mother was Princess Alice of Battenburg, who was honored as a Righteous Among the Nations.

    Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark was her title as a married woman, as she married Prince Andrew. (Similar to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.) Princess Alice of Battenburg was her maiden name.

jcarpenter says:

“We are not amused . . . .”

Yes, again (so maybe Tablet’s editorial voice will mature) — not funny, amusing, witty or anything in that direction.

Tablet soars as well as plunges low and this post is just about at the bottom.

Earl Ganz says:

I want to throw my two cents in. As I’ve said many times
I’m almost eighty and it seems to me you are all missing
the point. The most important thing about getting old is
your legacy. Every schnook in America has the right to leave
something to somebody. Think about it. Elizabeth the Two
doesn’t have that right. All the things, the crowned jewels
in the London Tower, the ermine capes, the castles
throughout the realm, all the things she thought she owned
will go to someone else, and not of her choosing. Even her
“private” funds culled from her annual allowance will be put
back into a general fund and given to the next in line for the
throne, whoever that is. No wonder she’s cranky. She’s just
beginning to realize that she has no power at all. It’s a rude
and very late awakening.
Loved the article. And even a bubba has the right to leave
what she wants to who she wants.

This article is offensive and not funny in the slightest. My Jewish grandmother was a partisan, fighting Nazis and their collaborators in the woods of the Ukraine. By convincing Russian fighters to form a family camp — not just to accept able-bodied fighters — she saved hundreds of innocent lives including her own toddler, my mother, whom she refused to leave behind in her village. (Everyone who stayed in the village was murdered by the collaborators — shot down in a ditch in the forest.) Widowed at the end of the war, and pregnant, she led a small group of survivors across the Alps by foot to escape communism. After time in the DP camps of Italy, she eventually brought her children to the U.S. where she raised them on her own, not taking a dime from anyone, working day and night to run her small grocery store. She educated her children, helped her grandchildren and left a legacy of heroic proportions. That is a Jewish grandmother.

So, let me guess…..a good percentage of you would be taken aback or offended by Mel Brooks, Jackie Mason, Myron Cohen and Pearl Williams (look her up)? Fact is, Tante Liz (too young to be mein bubbe) was photographed wearing the exact housedress my mother saved for cooking for shabbos…..utterly overboiled chicken, limp asparagus (“everytime I eat asparagus and make number one….there’s such an aroma” – the 2000 Year Old Man), great kugel and phenomenal soup. In fact, were she to trade in those glasses for a pair featuring rhinestone-covered winglike lens holders, she’d be welcome at the mah jongg table withe Sylvia, Ruthie, Gertie, Rosie and Selma. Three bam!

Rochaleh, Did you forget the doctor says I have to eat the sugar free candies?

corey949 says:

Guess I missed this when it first appeared. Ya done it again, sweet Rochele! Without you, Tablet would be as sad and crabby as HRH and the majority of the self-righteous commemorati who haunt these parts.


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Bubbe Elizabeth the Second

When did the Queen of England, star of the Olympic opening ceremony, become a Jewish grandmother?

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