“I, Amy Fischer, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that on becoming a British Citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law.”
It’s an odd thing to swear allegiance to the British monarch as an American. Like most, I had been brought up on Fourth of July fireworks, celebrations of independence, and stories all those who, by their pluck and determination, defeated the Red Coats and took possession their independence from the crown.
But life took me to England, visas are expensive, and I wanted to quit queuing with the other internationals at airport immigration. I also fancied the ability to vote. One Life-in-the-UK test and quite a bit of money later, I found myself in Preston with my husband, eating a buffet breakfast intended to welcome me as a citizen. I vaguely remember that there wasn’t quite enough food.
The fateful moment arrived and we were seated in a small auditorium with twenty people and their families who had also jumped through the hoops for UK citizenship. One step left: to pledge my commitment to the Queen. We stood up, we repeated after the government official, slotting our names into the correct spot, and we were in. Just had to collect our certificate and gift, a paperweight shaped like an over-large diamond.
Promising allegiance to the Queen didn’t take a lot of time. That government official had no way of knowing whether I, or anyone else in that room, even meant what we said. It could easily have been mere lip service. After all, who in that room would ever be called to show faithfulness to Her Majesty in a practical way?
But a promise is a promise. However my American upbringing had painted my imagination, Queen Elizabeth II became my queen from that moment, and I became her subject. So while I read the news of her passing from a distance, it remains personal, an end to a relationship that began on that day in Preston.