Her Royal Highness, Betty Anne

by Liz von Achen

When I was a child, I had an ongoing fantasy that I was actually an elf with magical powers. Now that I’m older and wiser, of course I realize it was quite silly of me to indulge in that fantasy. I should have been fully believing it as fact! Because, after all, I DO have magical powers. Don’t we all? And, of course, I also have freaky little elfin ears. Which means I must be an elf. A magical elf.

Because my mother insisted on calling me Betty Anne, I literally had no idea my name was actually Elizabeth until my first day of kindergarten. My teacher, Miss Simisek read down a list of names, and told us to raise our hands and say “Here!” when we heard our names called. I never heard her call Betty Anne, so I didn’t raise my hand. When she reached the end of the list, she looked around the room puzzled. “Is there anyone here who’s name I didn’t call?” she asked. I raised my hand.

“And what’s your name?”

“Betty Anne.”

I noticed she smiled a little, and then made a check-mark on her list. She then gently asked,
“Doesn’t your mother ever call you Elizabeth?”

“Only when she’s mad at me,” I answered. (I honestly thought “Elizabeth” was a generic term that all mothers used when their little girls misbehaved.)

Miss Simisek laughed, and told me what I said was very funny. I couldn’t understand why it was so funny, because it was just the truth. But, I felt happy about making her laugh. She then explained that my real name was actually Elizabeth, and the Queen of England was also named Elizabeth, and Betty Anne was just a nickname. I just couldn’t wait to run home and tell my mother!

Shortly thereafter, I developed this notion that since I had a “royal” name like Elizabeth Anne, I was probably, actually, indeed the daughter of Queen Elizabeth and the younger sister of Princess Anne. Her Royal Highness the Queen had sent me over to America, to experience life as a commoner in a very large, dysfunctional family. Ultimately, HRH, my “real” Mom would send the giant glass “pumpkin” carriage to my house in New York, and rescue me from a life of middle-class mediocrity. The experience of having grown up in a world of baseball, hot-dogs, Barbie dolls and Donny Osmond would somehow make me a wiser, kinder, more beloved ruler upon claiming my status as the rightful heir to the throne.

I do admit, while the elf-thing was totally feasible, believing the long-lost princess spiel was a bit far-fetched. And, it wasn’t as if I didn’t love my own parents, or siblings. I did. Nor was my life so oppressed that I really needed to live in my imagination. I just thought it would be nice to move my entire family out of boring Long Island, New York, and into Buckingham Palace. I was sure we would never have to worry or fight about finding a clean bath towel there! I was also CERTAIN I would NEVER have to wear my older brother’s hand-me downs, and have to withstand some mean little girl in art-class making nasty comments about it.

The Queen would hook-me-up with lots of frilly dresses, and all the Hostess Twinkies I could ever want. And, if my annoying American brothers woke up before me, the Queen would make DAMN sure they didn’t gobble up all the good, sweet cereal like Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms, and leave me with the crappy tasting cereal like Shredded Wheat! No, my “real” mother, Queen Elizabeth would NEVER allow that to happen!

© 2009 Liz von achen All rights reserved.

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