Cupid: <sigh>

Feb 14, 2017 · 4 min read
Spoiler alert: I hearted marbles

When I was at Noble Elementary, a bit young for romance but still caught up in the annual Valentine’s Day massacre (by massacre I mean my wounded little heart when so few cards were posted to my desk), I didn’t know how good I had it: imagine if the government and press took an interest when Cupid’s arrows start to fly?

When society deems you noble-born, your love life gets even more complicated.

Princess Elizabeth probably wouldn’t have suffered a shortage of cards. From her teens, the future queen only had eyes for dashing naval cadet Philip.

Once she was old enough, courting began in earnest, culminating in his request of her father for her hand. This wasn’t just a matter of tradition. The Royal Marriages Act 1772 required consent of the reigning monarch, a.k.a. dear old dad, “signified under the great seal and declared in council”. As you might imagine, this is a somewhat more solemn affair than placing an announcement in the lifestyle section of your friendly town newspaper.

Given that her uncle Edward VIII had taken the unprecedented step of abdicating rather than forgo marrying “that woman”, as Liz’s mother called unsuitably divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson, I imagine the magnifying glasses were out.

Philip passed muster, barely; he had royal lineage but you might say he was from the wrong side of the tracks. They’ve now been wed for 69 years. If they make it one more year, he can finally get her that nice platinum brooch she saw in the shop window.

For their 68th he got her this puzzle of The Love Boat. Later that night history rhymed as she requested he dress as Captain Stubing.

69 years is coincidentally the age at which the first Elizabeth popped her clogs, as the British so charmingly put it, though I have yet to see that printed in an obituary notice. She died renowned as The Virgin Queen, despite many ardent suitors and by accounts a fully functioning libido.

Stupid cupid

TMI, if you ask me, but if Facebook had been around in the 16th century you can bet that would’ve been one status update most keenly anticipated.

It’s well known that the job description ideally calls for “an heir and a spare.” From the birth of her first child in 1840, until her ninth in 1857, Queen Victoria delivered in spades with the help of love of her life Prince Albert. Evidently, for them almost every day was Valentine’s Day.

Not tonight Vicky, I have a headache

They filled the royal houses of Europe with their offspring, dynastic couplings still being a thing, just. Albert was to die relatively young, presumably exhausted. It’s said that servant John Brown was the replacement love of her life. Let’s draw a veil of privacy over Victorian gossip and jump forward to a time when another virgin was making headlines.

The footloose and fancy free Prince of Wales had a problem. While nobody would mistake him for an inexperienced operator, he required a maiden in pristine white before he could be taken seriously, double standard be damned. An innocent kindergarten teacher would do nicely, thank you.

Status update: iceberg ahead

I might have developed a crush on Diana myself, had she been the one passing out crayons in my class.

Asked by a reporter if they were in love, the prince made the mistake of thinking a little too hard, responding “Whatever ‘in love’ means.” What girl doesn’t want to hear it put quite that way? Amazing that Hallmark didn’t use it for a card. We all know how that fairy tale romance ended, with both of them lying back and thinking of anything other than England.

Charles knew what ‘in love’ meant after all, with Camilla, setting Edward and Wallis spinning in their graves to a soundtrack by Tammy Wynette.He’s still waiting to sit in that highest of chairs. And waiting…

The next heir in line appears to have made a good match, and the spare keeps the tabloids busy speculating about that Marla Maples woman. Sorry, that’s Trump’s ex-wife. Too many M’s flying around.

That brings us pretty much up to date with the blue bloods.

As for little old me, enviously eyeing the overflowing IN and OUT trays on the desks of my classmates back at Noble, my status was to remain hopeful but unconsummated for quite some time.

Oh, there was a brief flurry of activity on the possible romance meter when a few years later a girl offered me a marble — a ‘steely’ no less — if I could find it when she tossed it into the snow during recess. To be honest I was more interested in the marble than the girl, especially after she trudged into the drifts and brought it to me herself. Cupid sighed as his arrow got lost in the snow.

Be steely my heart

More From Medium

Top on Medium

Ed Yong
Mar 25 · 22 min read


Top on Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade