Event Review - Queen's Champion 2021 - by Robin of Gilwell

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Trying to wrap my mind around this weekend.

First of all, it’s great to be back – back to Ansteorra, back to the rapier field, back to Queen’s Champion, back to all my friends.

Just being around a list field in the morning as we’re all getting armored up and inspected, walking around and talking to people I hadn’t seen in over a year.

The loss of Tivar. He wasn’t at Queen’s Champion, for the first time ever. My thanks to Æthelyan for bringing his weapons and letting me use them. His daggers parried blows in Queen’s; his rapiers won fights.

Delivering the Legion oath in morning court. It will someday feel like an honor to do so, but yesterday, it was mostly a sense of loss. You don’t expect my voice to lead us in that oath; I don’t expect my voice to lead us in that oath. I hope what we did with it satisfied everyone. Special thanks to Queen Margherita for allowing us to honor Tivar that way. Special thanks to Æthelyan for coming up with the phrasing that would let everybody do what they believed in. It was one last time of people using his name for that.

Everyone, please remember that, whatever else it meant this time, it remains an oath and commitment to the Queen. If you truly mean to honor Tivar, defend the life of the Queen and preserve her good name and honor.

Throughout the day, Queen Margherita was wonderful for us. It’s supposed to be her special day, and we tried to make it so. But it had two other focuses. It was also a day of honoring Tivar, and it was a day of rejoicing that we are back. Queen Margherita threw herself into both of those goals, honoring us as we honored her. It could have been awkward. She ensured that it was not.

The tournament. I had the greatest set of opponents in the world. From Thora to Lorenzo, they fought hard and honorably. I was pleased to pass my Queen’s Rapier cord on to Thora.

I was nervous coming in to this tourney. Even under the best of circumstances, a 65-year-old can’t be expected to be what he once was. But after two shoulder surgeries and a year’s layoff, I was trying to be prepared for whatever my prowess would turn out to be. Turns out I wasn’t.

Thora, Ashildr, Cornelius, Darian, Orazio, Kazimir, and Lorenzo, thank you. You all gave me great fights. I think I gave most of you great fights. I am still in shock that I made it to the semi-finals. The only two people who beat me were Lorenzo and Orazio, the winners of this Queen’s and the last one.

For this, I thank Master Mahdi and Mistress Rhiannon, who kept me in training – as well as Don Alain and Lord Sean. And I definitely need to thank my physical therapist. I’m bringing her flowers Monday morning.

Rosalind set up the memorial while I was busy in a meeting. That helped a lot. Thank you.

The memorial for Tivar went well, I thought. It certainly was cathartic for me. My thanks to everyone who spoke, and to everyone who came and listened. Our loss is forever, but I think, for some of us, healing has begun.

The COVID rules in place now state that we cannot give people any food, even individually wrapped. Master Brian went to bat for us with the Society Seneschal, and got a variance to the rules so we could pass out individual packages of Double-Stuffed Oreos.

The heat was brutal. I suspect that the heat beat more people than any one fencer did. We endured – but we wilted some.

Court. The Roses gave out their tokens and gifts. I was surprised to be honored by Osprey – but quite shocked that she handed me a 38” bated rapier blade. That was a queenly gift.

Then my final surprise of the day. Queen Margherita had me called up, and named me the Holder of the Queen’s Blade of Honor. I am overwhelmed. It’s sitting on the couch next to me as I type this.

I was exhausted. Sean Tabor helped me pack the car, while he was also collapsing. Thank you. This kind of event cannot happen without good friends.

After the event, the remnants of House Gilwell gathered in our hotel room and gabbled for hours. [The house was active in the early-to-mid 1980s.] It was a warm and heartfelt way to end a long and wonderful, though deeply stressing, day. Thank you, Æthelyan and Durrmast.

I knew I would be emotionally overwrought – and I was.
I knew that I would be physically beaten down by the heat – and I was.
I knew that I would have difficulty mourning Tivar – and I did.
I knew I would welcome getting back on the tourney field – and I did.
I knew I would enjoy getting back to the role of serving the Queen – and I did.

I did not expect to make the semis, and to bring home the Queen’s Blade of Honor.

Thank you, everybody.