I have always been a royalist at heart, quite possibly instilled within me as a child and retained into adulthood. I have a respect for Queen and country and all that comes with such a statement.
This extended holiday weekend, as a nation and the larger Commonwealth family, we have celebrated the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. Her father King George VI passed away in his sleep and his body was found at 7.30am, on Wednesday the 6th of February 1952. Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time with Prince Phillip her husband. Back home in London the Accession Council met at 5pm that day and at 7pm both Houses of Parliament met, where MPs and Lords took their oaths of allegiance to the crown. Although rightfully the new Queen, her coronation would not take place until the 2nd of June 1953. This delay followed the tradition of leaving time for mourning the departed King.
Over the past week and specifically 4 days, as a family we have watched documentaries, filled with stories, pictures and film of royal life. Queen Elizabeth was a keen videographer long before social media taught the rest of us to film everything. As a consequence there are hours of home movies she has shot. These insights have reinforced my respect for 70 years of dedicated service.
The commitment from a Princess
In a 21st Birthday broadcast Princess Elizabeth made the following commitment…
In that same speech, she also went on to speak to the youth of the “British Family of Nations” as their representative. She described how it should be a joy to take the burden from their elders. She new what price had been paid by the previous generations for freedom, now looking forward she took the opportunity to pass the baton. In many ways this characterises the role of a good monarch. Setting an example for others to follow.
Of all the things that I have taken from this weekends events, it is the steadying nature of having a Queen as a figure head for 70 years. 14 Prime ministers have come and gone in that time, starting with Winston Churchill. Each had their own agenda each their own political flavour. The Queen has met with each of them weekly, no doubt expertly offering thoughts, but diplomatically remaining politically neutral. What a wealth of world knowledge she must have. Hundreds of national visits, countless people and diversities met and interacted with. It is good our elected leaders have to account to the Queen. Even if it largely seen as symbolic.
Prince William sums up this steadying influence when he says…
I was really impressed by the speech given by the Duke of Cambridge at the Jubilee Concert, It is this vision that is required to be constant, when politics shifts from right to left.
British pomp and ceremony
I have also been reminded that as a nation we excel at pomp and ceremony! My dad served in the armed forces, the Auxiliary Fire Service and as an officer in the Ambulance service. I was brought up around uniforms. As I grew older my mum too joined the ambulance service and wore a uniform. It is in my nature to dress for an occasion. I love wearing a shirt and tie and being clean shaven for church meetings and services. As a child a maths teacher taught us to sit up in class… “If you are slovenly in body you will be slovenly in mind”
Who cannot be impressed by rows of red jacketed “tin soldiers” all perfectly groomed? In a post zoom world, we do well to be reminded that some things are worth more than pyjamas. Dressing for occasion contributes to the occasion.
I am sure that many aspects of royal life are different than mine! But watching from afar I can see that regardless of status and wealth, the Queen has, and is dealing with family life just like the rest of us. Blended families, wayward children, divorce and death.
Who can forget the image of a lone monarch obeying the rules of her government at the funeral of her husband? When even the rule makers were breaking them? She chose to stand with her people remaining above reproach.
Our own Jubilee celebrations.
Over the weekend we have enjoyed… Family time. A “Full English” breakfast at a daughters. Introducing our American friends to an afternoon tea at home. Walks. An extended family afternoon tea. And watching the national televised concerts, pageants and services.
We feel like we have been a part of history. Never before has a British Monach served for 70 years, it will be well past my lifetime before another one does.
We are proud to be in the Elizabethen era.
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