LONDON — Elizabeth and Philip were married the year I was born — 1947 — when Britain’s deference toward its royal family had not yet been exposed to the merciless shredding that was to come. Back then, my own family might almost have seen itself reflected, albeit remotely, in their lives.
Like Prince Philip, whose funeral is on Saturday, my father had served in World War II, on deployments that were so protracted that, my mother recalled, she went three years without seeing him. In London, Buckingham Palace was bombed. So, too, were the rowhouses in Barrow-in-Furness in northwestern England where my aunts, uncles and grandparents lived, close to the shipyards targeted by the German Air Force.
When Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, we clustered around a small black-and-white television at a neighbor’s home to follow what was billed as the country’s first coronation to be broadcast live. Certainly, it was a moment of pomp that seemed to fete Britain’s re-emergence from postwar deprivation.
British Broadcasting Corporation received about 100,000 complaints about its television coverage of the event when it canceled its scheduled programming in favor of blanket coverage of Prince Philip’s life and his death at the age of 99. Some people likened the obituary programming to what might be expected in North Korea.
Broadcasters “got the tone completely wrong,” Michael Cole, a former BBC royal correspondent, said in an interview with the rival Channel 4 News. Their hushed voices, he said, suggested that they had assumed the somber mantle of “self-appointed chief pallbearers” whose “sepulchral” utterances would have been more appropriate to a personal bereavement.
the kind of Prince Philip more favored by the script writers of “The Crown” than by official biographers. One of his sons, Prince Andrew, called him the “grandfather of the nation.”
But time and familiarity do not always breed fondness, or heal any wounds left by his statements in a country that has become more diverse. Much of the outpouring of sorrow may well have been directed at the queen, a widow facing the rigors of her reign without her “liege man of life and limb,” as her husband swore to become at her coronation.
Throughout the crises that have threatened to upend the institution she has fought doggedly to secure, Philip had been her “strength and stay all these years,” as the queen said in 1997.
It may be that historians will one day penetrate the fog of obfuscation that shrouds Prince Philip’s role in many of the royal family’s crises, part of the blend of aloofness, formality and pageantry by which the monarchy seeks to survive at the titular helm of an ever-shrinking, post-imperial domain.
In these days, few have wished to speak ill of the dead, preferring to focus on the prince’s emblematic place in the chronicles of those, like Meghan and Diana, whose marriages into the House of Windsor challenged them to come to terms with its secretive ways and define their often unscripted roles within, or outside, it.
In a sense, Philip outlasted all of them. Yet his departure may come to be seen as a grim and poignant dress rehearsal, for in those same years the queen has assumed a seemingly immutable position as the nation’s center of gravity. Her reign has overlapped the tenures of 14 British prime ministers and an equal number of American presidents.
In the reverence of the moment, the unspoken question is how she could ever be replaced as the guarantor of her line.
Back in those postwar days of the 1940s and 1950s, British schoolchildren learned by rote the names and lineages of her regal forebears, from Tudors, Plantagenets and Stuarts to Hanoverians, Saxe-Coburgs and Windsors.
In an era of far more divided loyalties and aspirations, the one lesson that may have endured may be found not so much in the names and titles of the past as in the fact that, save for a brief period in the 17th century, the monarchy itself has survived — though rarely without hard choices, stubborn resilience and often reluctant or enforced renewal.
Now is a time of mourning for Philip, who welcomed generations of young royals on their wedding days and who is credited with spurring an earlier period of self-assessment and renewal in the monarchy. That task will fall to others in coming years, in a world that may be less sympathetic than the one that welcomed the young royals on their wedding day.
President Biden’s $400 billion proposal to improve long-term care for older adults and those with disabilities was received as either a long overdue expansion of the social safety net or an example of misguided government overreach.
Republicans ridiculed including elder care in a program dedicated to infrastructure. Others derided it as a gift to the Service Employees International Union, which wants to organize care workers. It was also faulted for omitting child care.
For Ai-jen Poo, co-director of Caring Across Generations, a coalition of advocacy groups working to strengthen the long-term care system, it was an answer to years of hard work.
“Even though I have been fighting for this for years,” she said, “if you would have told me 10 years ago that the president of the United States would make a speech committing $400 billion to increase access to these services and strengthen this work force, I wouldn’t have believed it would happen.”
knocking millions of women out of the labor force — or deplete their resources until they qualify for Medicaid.
Whatever the limits of the Biden proposal, advocates for its main constituencies — those needing care, and those providing it — are solidly behind it. This would be, after all, the biggest expansion of long-term care support since the 1960s.
“The two big issues, waiting lists and work force, are interrelated,” said Nicole Jorwic, senior director of public policy at the Arc, which promotes the interests of people with disabilities. “We are confident we can turn this in a way that we get over the conflicts that have stopped progress in past.”
And yet the tussle over resources could reopen past conflicts. For instance, when President Barack Obama proposed extending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to home care workers, which would cover them with minimum-wage and overtime rules, advocates for beneficiaries and their families objected because they feared that states with budget pressures would cut off services at 40 hours a week.
“We have a long road ahead of passing this into law and to implementation,” Haeyoung Yoon, senior policy director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said of the Biden proposal. Along the way, she said, supporters must stick together.
half of adults would need “a high level of personal assistance” at some point, typically for two years, at an average cost of $140,000. Today, some six million people need these sorts of services, a number the group expects to swell to 16 million in less than 50 years.
In 2019, the National Academy of Social Insurance published a report suggesting statewide insurance programs, paid for by a dedicated tax, to cover a bundle of services, from early child care to family leave and long-term care and support for older adults and the disabled.
This could be structured in a variety of ways. One option for seniors, a catastrophic insurance plan that would cover expenses up to $110 a day (in 2014 dollars) after a waiting period determined by the beneficiary’s income, could be funded by raising the Medicare tax one percentage point.
Mr. Biden’s plan doesn’t include much detail. Mr. Gleckman of the Urban Institute notes that it has grown vaguer since Mr. Biden proposed it on the campaign trail — perhaps because he realized the tensions it would raise. In any event, a deeper overhaul of the system may eventually be needed.
“This is a significant, historic investment,” Mr. Espinoza said. “But when you take into account the magnitude of the crisis in front of us, it’s clear that this is only a first step.”
Pittsburgh is strong as steel when it comes to empty nest households, according to new Zillow research.
Steel City holds the top spot in a new survey of markets where older homeowners live in a house with no children. The number of empty nests nationwide is higher than ever before, having climbed steadily in the past decade, says Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Zillow.
An “empty nest” is defined as a home where the heads of the household are 55 years or older, own the home, and have lived in it 10 or more years. There are no children — of any age — living in the home.
In Pittsburgh, 20.2 percent of homes are considered empty nests, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. Buffalo, Cleveland, Richmond, and Birmingham round out the top five metros with the highest percentage of empty nesters.
But empty nests aren’t necessarily a bad thing, says Dr. Christine Proulx, an associate professor at the University of Missouri who studies families, relationships, and marriage.
“For the most part, the change was sort of marked with pride and a sense of awe and wonder,” says Proulx, who has analyzed empty nesters as part of her research. “[You’re] watching this human being that you have been in charge of since birth — or close to birth — mature into a young adult.
“It’s just a very pleasurable shift in that relationship,” she adds.
The places with the lowest densities of empty nests include booming cities with strong job markets, such as Austin, Phoenix, and San Francisco. Retirement communities, such as Fort Myers, Tampa, and Orlando — all in Florida — also registered low on the list.
An additional 4.3 million households are “near-empty” nests, meaning they would be empty nests if an adult child currently living at home were to break out on their own.
That harkens back to the idea that empty nesting may not be a permanent thing, Proulx adds.
“I call them boomerang families,” she says. “I don’t think empty nesting is now a one-time shot.
“I’m more Gen X,” continues Proulx, now a parent herself. “I think people in that generation are also leaving and then coming back.”
For many Americans, owning a home is a rite of passage. But not everyone puts homeownership on their priority list.
Long-term renters (those who have been renting for more than one year) are opting out of the home-buying game for a variety of reasons, from a desire for mobility to simply not being able to afford a home purchase.
It’s not just twenty-somethings who make up this group – the population of long-term renters spans all generations, from millennials to baby boomers.
According to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 56 percent of today’s renters are millennials (ages 18 to 34). While a majority of renters are in their 20s and 30s, not everyone is in the under-40-club: 28 percent are part of Generation X (ages 35 to 49), and Baby Boomers (ages 50 to 64) make up another 12 percent.
“I want flexibility – not a mortgage”
Many renters are staying in the rental market longer than they planned, as evidenced by falling homeownership rates over the past decade. The Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends reveals that long-term renters are generally content with their current living situations. This echoes what long-term renters across the United States are saying: It’s about flexibility.
Los Angeles renter and real estate agent Monica Rivera explains that, for her, renting is all about mobility and location. “I choose to rent because I’m not ready to stay in one place just yet, and renting provides a great level of flexibility,” says Rivera, a millennial.
“I know the traditional idea of homeownership has been finding that dream home you’ll live in for seven plus years,” she adds. “Maybe it’s a millennial thing, but I tend to move every two years depending on new opportunities or even proximity to places I enjoy visiting.”
The report also indicates that the longer someone rents, the more likely they are to stay put. More than half of renters not looking to move have rented for five or more years.
Millennial Kim Van Horn has been renting in Seattle, WA for more than five years and intends to rent for up to 10 more. She and her husband enjoy being able to live wherever they like without the constraints of a “house budget.”
“There’s much more flexibility and inventory with renting,” remarks Van Horn.
Jacqueline Smith, a Baby Boomer who lives in Natick, MA, says her reasons for renting revolve around her temporary living situation. After moving for work, the Smith family chose to rent until their children go to college, and then relocate.
“We’re renting just until our last child finishes the first two years of college,” Smith explains. “It’s easier than buying and then trying to sell in a short period of time.”
“What’s the rush?”
The Zillow Group report also indicates that families who have been renting long-term are more likely to plan to move to a purchased home. In fact, 40 percent of long-term renters hope to purchase a home once they decide to move.
Baltimore resident and SparkRental real estate blogger Brian Davis has rented for most of his adult life. Now in his mid-30s and married, Davis intends to continue renting for some time to come. “For now, my wife and I are still enjoying traveling a great deal and don’t need a home larger than our apartment,” he says. He intends to buy a home once they have kids.
Sam Wright, a millennial who lives in Fort Worth, TX, is a teacher and graduate student with plans to move once she finishes her doctoral program. “I rent because it’s far cheaper than owning a home. Even though my rent is slightly more than my mortgage [would be], I pay less in utilities and nothing in terms of maintenance and repair,” she explains.
“Renting also lets me live closer to where I need to be than owning would allow,” Wright notes. She adds that renting for a few years also affords her the time she wants to decide where she’d like to settle down.
“I just can’t afford it”
On the flip side of opting for flexibility is the harsh reality of financial constraints.
Jamie Harsha Sass, a millennial in Ames, IA, recently bought her first home after renting for 16 years. As a single parent and graduate student, Sass says her financial situation wasn’t stable enough to buy a home of her own.
After remarrying, she and her husband were able to purchase a home together. “I never intended to rent for so long, but my life took some serious unplanned detours,” Sass says. “My credit was a mess for almost a decade, which prevented me from buying a home until recently.”
Debt is another issue for many renters who hope to be homeowners some day. Courtenay Cook Stevens, a millennial living in Orem, UT, rents a home for now. She doesn’t think she and her husband have the credit to buy yet.
“We’re a single-income family with two kids and a ton of student loan debt, some credit card debt, some lingering medical debt, and about one year left on our car loan,” Stevens explains. “With the amount of debt we’re in, we wouldn’t be able to get approved for a home loan that would get us the type of home we need. For the time being, renting allows us to enjoy nicer digs than we’d get buying.”
Adrienne Ward, a Baby Boomer in Union Beach, NJ, moved to the East Coast during the recession and could not sell her home in Illinois. She and her husband are currently renting their New Jersey home on a yearly contract. Uncertain of whether her family will buy property in New Jersey given real estate prices, Ward and her husband plan on renting for the foreseeable future.
While owning a home may be perceived as the ultimate American dream, the Zillow Group report shows that in general, long-term renters are happy with their current living situations.