Study Guide

The Queen in The BFG

The Queen

In 1982, when The BFG was published, Queen Elizabeth II had been the reigning monarch of England for thirty years. Okay, it’s never explained whether The BFG is set in the present day or in the past, so we don’t know for sure that The Queen in the story is Elizabeth II. But she was probably influenced by her. Like Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen in this story was well-liked by her subjects and is the main monarch, more powerful than the king. Let’s hear it for ladies ruling the roost.

And unlike real 1982 Britain, the Queen in The BFG is completely in charge. No Parliament or House of Commons slowing down the pace in this story.

We can’t help but be on the Queen’s side. She’s so calm and collected. Aside from one gasp when she sees the BFG for the first time, she reacts to the entire extraordinary situation as if it’s just another day. Now that’s royalty.

And, in her own way, she’s kind to Sophie and the BFG. While her maid yells at Sophie for being on the Queen’s bedroom windowsill, the Queen seems to have a more open mind. She doesn’t even raise an eyebrow when the giant Sophie claims to have called doesn’t show up right away. The Queen only makes Sophie get off the windowsill, so she won’t fall, and tells her maid to “Take her downstairs and give her some breakfast.” (19.119)

Let’s not forget that a number of alarming things have happened. Like children being killed, and another child appearing in her bedroom (you’d think the palace would have better security). Still, the Queen thinks of Sophie’s comfort and safety first.

She’s still in charge, though. After all, she’s Queen, and she expects to get anything she orders. Like when she makes her servants prepare the twenty-four-foot giant’s breakfast on very short notice. When she’s told there are no more eggs for the BFG (after he’s eaten a whopping 72), the Queen asks her butler:

“What’s wrong with the hens?”
“Nothing’s wrong with the hens, Your Majesty,” Mr. Tibbs whispered.
“Then tell them to lay more,” the Queen said.
(20.70-72)

Uh, Queen? We do not think egg-laying works the way you think it does.

The most important thing about the Queen is that she takes Sophie and the BFG seriously. She’s on their side, both when she hears their story, and when the BFG is arguing with her Heads of the Army and Air Force:

“BFG,” she said, “Would you please tell these rather dim-witted characters exactly what to do.” (21.47)

That’s almost as harsh as calling them squifflerotters. It’s her country, she can say what she wants to.

She’s got the power, that’s for sure, but the Queen is also a just monarch. Like the BFG, the Queen doesn’t believe in capital punishment (a.k.a. killing people, even if they killed someone first). That’s why she goes against the advice of the Heads of the Army and Air Force, supporting the BFG’s plan to bring the giants back to England alive.

It’s almost like the author is shouting that he feels pretty strongly about this. By making both the friendly giant and benevolent ruler characters feel the same way, he’s telling society that maybe they should feel that way, too.