The Public Face of Disability - a missed opportunity?


I am astounded by reports of the lengths that are being employed to ensure that HM The Queen will not to be seen using a wheelchair at the forthcoming service of remembrance for her late husband, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.

It is openly stated that a series of high screens and tunnels will shield Her Majesty from public view at any point in the proceedings at which she is not walking unaided.

While I can empathise with the unhappy image of the late Princess Margaret appearing in public in a wheelchair shortly before the end of her life this planned action seems to be a missed opportunity for demonstrating a connection with and acceptance of a large proportion of Her Majesty's subjects. Importantly it seems to be a negative implied statement about the values of the royal family who are lauded for setting the ethos and standards of British society.

HM has been fortunate to enjoy 95 years of apparently good mobility but, as we all know, such issues are no respecter of persons, do not signify a loss of metal acuity and their challenges have to be met.

I am disappointed!

😕 Crinkly


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,731

    Crinkly. I usually agree with you. This time half of me does! You know the half which does so I'll do the devil's advocate bit.

    I've been amazed, astonished and deeply grateful for the selflessness, devotion to duty, statesmanlike and honourable behaviour of HM at a time when many of her politicians were being the exact opposite. And how this old lady persevered despite the loss of her husband and very questionable behaviour of some of her immediate family.

    I think what I feel now is not so much that she should set an example - yet again - but that we should 'cut her some slack' and allow her a choice that the rest of us are free to make for ourselves.

    I positively hate using my wheelchair unless absolutely crucial. I particularly hate using it for hospital appointments. I prefer to stagger in, on my rollator if necessary, but at least under my own steam. If I had the eyes of the world on me I'd be even more determined.

    I'm in no way ashamed of being disabled. I have many things to be ashamed of but my disabilities are not part of them. Yet, I think the very reason why it would seem good to let the queen be seen in a wheelchair is also the very reason why it could be bad. Precisely because people are judgemental and, although Stephen Hawking proved that a brilliant mind can exist in a crushed body, many would see simply an old woman who is no longer fit to rule.

    It's truly difficult but I think, on balance, I feel this conscientious old lady who has proved her dedication to duty time after time, should be allowed a little of the freedom that I have.

    (And I have never been a royalist!)

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright