Words by Ryan Croker Art by Chris Shill
Ask Debbie Part 3
Ask Debbie: My Royal Girlfriend Insists That I Use Her Outdated Titles When We’re Together. Help!
I am currently dating an older woman who also happens to be the monarch of a powerful nation. In order to protect her privacy, I’m going to refer to her as “Bess.” Bess and I get along great. We share the same taste in TV shows (Perfect Strangers reruns!) and we both enjoy long walks on the beach and talking about our feelings before we kiss passionately. In this relationship, I’ve found both emotional fulfilment and a friendship that bridges the many decades that separate our ages. She never mentions my common blood, and she’s even hinted that she might want to knight me some day.
There’s only one problem: when we are out in public, she insists that I use all of her titles, even the ones that don’t exist anymore. Here’s an example. Last week we went out for some flan, and when I ordered (she likes me to order for her) she insisted that I order on behalf of “Queen, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, Queen of the Anglo Saxons, Duchess of the Normans, etc.” (Yes, she actually has me include the “etc.”)
If it were just her actual titles, or even the ones they use in Canada, like “Head of the Commonwealth,” I would be totally okay with it. But I know for a fact that she’s not Empress of India or Duchess of the Normans. (India became independent in 1947 and Normandy became part of France in 1204.) Plus, Anglo-Saxons aren’t really a nation anymore. Sure, her ancestors may have had these titles, but she doesn’t, and this dishonesty is beginning to make me uncomfortable and I don’t know how to confront her about it.
What is the best way to bring this up without getting me locked in the Tower of London?
—Frustrated in Fresno
Believe it or not, this is not the first time I’ve advised a Ruler/Commoner relationship like yours. In my experience, elderly sovereigns are very sensitive about territories that are no longer theirs to rule—even if those territories were lost centuries ago. They also feel a lot of pressure not to dishonor their ancestors, which can cause those ancestors to become angry ghosts. I feel like you should respect her wishes and try to put yourself in her shoes. Would you want an angry ghost king yelling at you all night long because you didn’t want to use a white lie in front of a flan waiter? I wouldn’t and neither should you. Any relationship takes work and compromise. Don’t ruin this one because you are a stickler for historical accuracy.