Queen Ramondas daring escape...
Queen Ramonda's daring escape... Black Panther

SPOILER ALERT: And then it happens. Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), with help from a few friends, flees the city. Her son (played by Chadwick Boseman) has been dethroned, and the ambitious black liberator Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) is now the king of Wakanda. The queen has lost everything and, under the cover of darkness, must creep out of the city.

There is, of course, a real history of this sort of thing. The escape scene doesn't come out of nowhere. The past is filled with queens and kings fleeing a city or country after shit has hit the fan.

There's the escape of Charles II of England, which happened in 1651 after he lost the Battle of Worcester. He knew the time. He disguised himself as a peasant, and even hid in a giant oak tree, while his enemy's troops looked for him in the woods. There is no doubt in my mind that King Charles would have been moved deeply by the flight of Queen Ramonda in Black Panther. The same goes for Eugenie de Montijo ("the Tragic Empress" of France). She would have seen in this scene the mirror of her own daring escape. After her husband, the King of France, Napoleon III, lost the Battle of Sedan to Prussia in 1870 and was captured, the game was up. She fled Paris with assistance from her American dentist, Dr. Evans. (In the Black Panther, the dub of this Yankee doc is the CIA agent Everett K. Ross—Martin Freeman.)

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But recall the note in Walter Benjamin's first masterpiece, One-Way Street, that opens with: "Again and again, in Shakespeare, in Calderon, battles fill the last act, and kings, princes, attendants and followers 'enter fleeing.'" And then theorizes that "the appearance on stage of those who enter 'fleeing' takes from this its hidden meaning": We in the audience expect "a place, a light, a footlight glare, in which our flight through life may likewise [be] sheltered in the presence of onlooking strangers."

My main question in this post is: What's the hidden meaning of the queen's escape in Black Panther? We know her life is in great danger. We also know that the future of Wakanda is contained in this flight. If she reaches safety, there is hope for a return and restoration of the legitimate order. But there is something more to this royal flight than just the preservation of hope. The royal escape casts on us, the common people, the same spell as a falling star. What was once fixed and eternal suddenly breaks from its spot in heaven and hurtles toward earth. After the war of the gods, fiery the angels fell.

King Charles's feet hurt and bled while he was on the run (his shoes were uncomfortable). Eugénie’s glamour was reduced to just a "little purse containing two handkerchiefs," when she crossed the English Channel. The queen of Wakanda hid her noble head of silvery locks in a plain hood. But we (the reader, the moviegoer, the earthlings) know who they are. We see their fire and blazing trails as they walk through the woods, sail across the sea, or climb to the top of a snow-capped mountain inhabited by a Gorilla-worshiping tribe.