I’m not an expert on the multiverse. I do know it’s different from the metaverse, which as far as I can tell is just people running around with huge virtual reality goggles on pretending they’re at the beach when they’re actually walking down the street in a snowstorm.
Or it might be living in the internet.
I’m not sure.
But it doesn’t matter, because we’re here to talk about the multiverse, which, as best I understand, is a scientific theory that postulates that there are multiple universes. All the various parallel universes that you could exist in live within the multiverse.
It also has something to do with the Marvel superhero movies, but we’ll leave that alone for now.
All this talk of the multiverse got me thinking as I spent the week watching the coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the national mourning in Britain.
So let’s explore some alternative universes, shall we?
Many of this week’s tributes refer to Elizabeth II as The Accidental Queen.
When her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated in 1936 so he could marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, the crown passed to his brother Bertie, who became King George VI (as depicted by Colin Firth in The King’s Speech). When he died in 1952, the crown passed to his twenty-five year old daughter Elizabeth.
And thus began the longest reign in history.
If Edward VIII had not abdicated, the crown would’ve passed to his children.
But here’s the thing—he never had any.
So the ultimate result would’ve been the same—upon his death, his niece Elizabeth would’ve taken the throne.
Elizabeth II was not an Accidental Queen. Her father was an Accidental King. As Edward VIII outlived his brother, Bertie is the one who never would have reigned if Edward VIII had done his duty.
Edward VIII’s abdication stole two decades of freedom from Elizabeth II and Philip. Two decades when Philip could’ve completed his military career, two decades out of the spotlight, and two decades where she could’ve given her children more attention.
In this multiverse, Elizbeth II becomes Queen in 1972 at the age of 46 and still manages to reign for half a century.
In the long arc of history, this is barely a blip.
But it would’ve made quite a difference, I’d say, to Elizabeth Windsor and Philip Mountbatten.
Imagining these alterative universes in the multiverse is fun, isn’t it?
Let’s explore another.
If you were one of the 750 million people watching Charles and Diana’s wedding on July 29, 1981, surely you thought of the day we witnessed last Thursday, when Elizbeth II’s crown would pass to the next generation. (As a lifelong royal watcher, of course I watched Charles and Diana’s wedding. I was 35 days old, but I watched it from the crook of my mother’s arm.)
So let’s go digging around in the multiverse and pull out the universe where Charles put aside his feelings for Camilla. Instead of forcing Diana to live in a marriage that was “a bit crowded,” he committed himself to making what was essentially an arranged marriage work.
The universe where the Queen and the rest of the family supported the young and naïve Diana, and found a way to coexist.
A universe where Charles learned to love his wife, and to be proud instead of jealous of her beauty and the world’s adoration. A universe where things didn’t get so out of hand, where they never divorced.
A world where Diana didn’t die at 36 in a horrific car wreck at the hands of the paparazzi.
In my multiverse, the fairy tale promised that day in July 1981 comes true.
Imagine last Saturday with Charles taking the oath to become King with a still radiant sixty-one year old Diana beside her husband.
Imagine the People’s Princess becoming the People’s Queen.
No one would be calling for Charles to abdicate in a rush to get to the reign of William and Kate.
The Fab Four of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan would’ve never ruptured—Diana simply wouldn’t have allowed it.
You may tell me there couldn’t possibly be a universe like this.
You may tell me I have no understanding of what the multiverse actually is.
You’re probably right on the first, and definitely right on the second.
But scientists say that the number of universes in the multiverse is literally “humungous.”
So why can’t Diana still be alive and married to Charles in one of them?
In that multiverse, tomorrow they will mourn Queen Elizabeth II.
Then they will turn to the future and say, “Long Live Queen Diana.”