What You Didn't Know About Queen Elizabeth's Personal Poet

It's good to be Queen — just ask Queen Elizabeth's on-staff poet!

Between having her corral of beloved horses, an art collection worth hundreds of millions, and jewels that would have brought Cartier to his knees, the head of the house of Windsor certainly has her fair share of the finer things. According to Harper's Bazaar, to aid in her service to the nation, Queen Elizabeth keeps an "official 'Poet Laureate,'" who writes poems for special occasions. The outlet explains that a recent Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, served from 2009 to 2019. Upon her designation, she became the first female to hold the title in the history of the position.

Duffy penned sonnets for royal happenings such as The Queen's Coronation anniversary, as well as the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, Bazaar explains. The Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom has been around since 1616, according to The Independent, and is currently held by Simon Armitage. While the role can last for various amounts of time, many of the Poets Laureate have held their tenure for a fixed ten years. Duffy's appointment proved historic in many aspects — she was the first Scottish Poet Laureate and the first openly gay person to fill the post, The Independent reports.

The poet who holds the position receives an annual stipend of nearly 6,000 pounds, along with 600 bottles of sherry — a worthy payment indeed!

Poets have mixed feelings about the job

Since writing poetry is one of the most intrinsically creative undertakings that one can tackle, it makes sense that being tied to the monarchy can cause some issues. While some poets leap at the chance to inherit the title, others scoff at it as an institutionally-oppressive role. The monarchy is often under siege from modernists who wish to see the organization known as the Crown crumble to pieces. For instance, poet Benjamin Zephaniah emphasized to The Independent, "I have absolutely no interest in this job. I won't work for them. They oppress me, they upset me, and they are not worthy."

For those who have taken on the title, it appears that it may have taken more than it was worth. The Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009, Andrew Motion, said that the position was "very, very damaging to my work" and that he "dried up completely about five years ago and can't write anything except to commission."

Working as the official Poet Laureate of the UK involves leaning into the charitable endeavors that the royal family is undertaking and expressing empathy. As for the current Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, the role seems to be intellectually and creatively stimulating. "I want to celebrate what's best in poetry and build on the work Andrew Motion and Carol Ann Duffy have done over the last two decades in terms of encouraging and identifying talent, particularly among young people, among whom poetry might be a way forward, an outlet," he said to the BBC.

While it may appear that the Queen's poet has a singularly aesthetic role, the position actually serves as an example to younger generations and disenfranchised people across the nation.