Prince Louis at the Platinum Jubilee

While I have not had time to sit and watch the coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, I have seen a few highlights. (Such an event is not merely a once-in-a-lifetime celebration; it may very well be a once-in-history event. Can anyone else name a king or queen who ruled for seventy years?) The picture that remains in my memory is that of Prince Louis, the four-year-old great-grandson of the Queen, covering his ears and screaming during the royal fly-over at the beginning of the ceremonies.

That picture sticks in my head because I was once that child. I could not bear loud noises. Much as I enjoyed the Fourth of July parades every year, I hated those moments when the fire engines came down the street, blowing their sirens and honking their horns. I also was not fond of fireworks, and as an adult I have stayed away from firework shows. When the electric company sent out their trucks to trim branches from the trees and grind them into mulch, I was in agony. I remember running through the house, hands over my ears, screaming, just as the young prince was doing in London last week.

Other people—even close family—do not understand the pain that loud noises cause in some people’s lives. The prince’s mother, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, appears to be laughing. I hope she is not laughing at her son, but at something else happening the same moment. My family sometimes laughed at my reaction to loud noises. They apparently did not realize that I was genuinely suffering, that my reaction to the noises were not an exaggeration but were a sincere response to the pain I felt from those sounds.

Like anyone, I am startled by a sudden, unexpected, loud noise. When something shorted out at the power pole last evening while we were at the dinner table, there was a bright flash of light and a loud report, and we all jumped. But I got over the surprise as quickly as everyone else. Ongoing noises, even when they are not as loud, bother me more. Lawn trimmers and leaf blowers create a sound that resonates in my head, making me unable to read or do other work while they run. Music and conversations often break my concentration. For me, there is no such thing as background noise. I play music when I want to hear the music. I turn on the television when I want to watch something. When I want to work, to read, to concentrate on something important, I prefer a quiet house or office. Not everyone is like me. Not everyone understands the condition.

I hope that, as he grows, Prince Louis will find family members and other people who respect his reaction to noise. I hope that people will not speak of him as “spoilt” merely because loud sounds upset him. In general, as society becomes increasingly accommodating for people with “special needs,” increasingly aware of the diversity that goes far beyond appearance and language and culture, that there will be room for those of us who are sensitive, who cannot handle noise, who sometimes need some peace and quiet. The prince may offer an opportunity to promote that awareness. J.

5 thoughts on “Prince Louis at the Platinum Jubilee

  1. I’ve thought about how people process the world around them. Some seem to glide right through, never missing a beat, always flowing from situation to situation, always having something to say in each given situation, while others process differently, sometimes pondering before speaking, sometimes gathering more information before making any decision, and some never in a hurry. And there are others always seem to be struggling in one way or another, yet I’m not always certain as to the reason. Also, I don’t share many other people’s ideas regarding, because all too often, I think people think from group thinking, not really pondering. **I understand that the above doesn’t seem related to sound, but it is. I’m not sure I’ll make the words explain my meaning well, but people process things differently, and while to some it may appear a great difficulty, there also may be something in that processing we haven’t fully understood. For I have known people who have had ways that appeared to be problematic, yet in time, they realized a benefit. Some people “see” things they wished they didn’t, understood what they’d rather not, and yet, there was a purpose, and when they realized what that purpose was, they were on their way so to speak. It’s a pondering. **While I don’t know other than the printed words above, one thing I considered is a sensitivity to the world around, which might have it’s positive side.

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    • I understand what you are saying. We do indeed process the world differently. Different people learn in different ways. Different people react in different ways to the same situations. Some are more sensitive than others to bright lights, loud sounds, pungent odors, and the like. Oversensitivity may be related, in some cases, to autism. Yet the most sensitive people may also best appreciate beauty in creation/nature and may best be able to create beauty in their artistic endeavors, be they visual arts, music, literature, or other fields. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all identical?! J.

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      • That last is what I was considering. I remember a student, a third grade student, who was in one of my classes. He had some “differences”, and they were difficulties as most saw, but I found his strengths and encouraged that. In ways others didn’t see, though I listened to his mother, he learned faster and more in depth than most of my class. What I was considering with this topic was the “sound sensitivity,” and later we can discuss other aspects I have seen over time, might be related to something that is positive in the long run. I know, for myself, people have said I walk to the beat of a different drummer.

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  2. Interesting, Salvageable! I usually enjoy loud noises, well sort of, when they’re happy noises, but I am starting to understand how disturbing sudden, unexpected noises can be. That stuff starts to get into your body and cause stress and it’s no longer fun.

    I also didn’t watch much of the jubilee, but what little I did see just showed some over stimulated, bored kids. I found myself really grateful to have gotten to raise mine without ever having to be be in the spot light. We could just pack up and leave at any time! My kids have no idea how blessed they really were, they occasionally had to hold it together for like 15 minutes during a wedding or church or something. These royal kids have to be on public display for hours on end in what often amounts to a tedious and not child friendly ritual and ceremony.

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    • Mel Brooks liked to say, “It’s good to be the king,” but royalty comes with its own challenges and struggles. But the stress of dealing with unwanted noise is real whether one is royal, bourgeoise, working-class, peasant, or slave. J.

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