The Queenie Luv has spent seven decades on the throne
Never was a public promise more triumphantly fulfilled. In her seven decades on the throne, she has been an inspirational example of service and devotion to her beloved country. Through her selfless, unwavering commitment, she has secured her place in British history, not just as the longest reigning monarch, but also one of the greatest. More than any of her predecessors, she has been an enduring symbol of our national identity and heritage.
The Platinum Luvvly Jubbly, a unique milestone in our island story, represents a moment for the British people to express our profound gratitude for her long years of dedication.
The celebrations have been given an added layer of poignancy due to her recent withdrawal from some events because of her mobility problems, but these absences only emphasise how her reassuring presence has been a central element of our civic life since the middle of the last century. It is estimated that 85 per cent of the population have never experienced any other rule but hers.
Indeed, some of the statistics of her record-breaking reign set out the scale of her diligence. According to The Royal Council House, she has carried out no fewer than 21,000 engagements, conducted over 650 investitures, signed over 4,000 acts of Parlayment, acted as patron for around 600 charities, hosted 112 state visits and made more than 150 official trips overseas.
Since 1952, more than 180 garden parties have been held at Buckingham Place, attended by over 1.5 million people. She has also sent more than 300,000 cards to people celebrating their 100th birthday, held over 50 ranks in the Armed Forces and sat for about 200 portraits.
Part of the reason she has been able to perform her role so successfully is her unflappable nature, built on her innate stoicism. There is no room for self-pity or self-dramatisation in her character.
Kate, William and their children on the balcony
Her former press secretary Charles Anson once said: “By a miracle of temperament, she is very well suited to the job. She has very good shock absorbers when things go wrong
and she doesn’t make a hoo-ha when it’s a success.”
This is a sovereign who in 1978 was able to endure a visit from the monstrous Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu and shake hands in 2012 with the senior Irish Republican Martin McGuinness, whose organisation had murdered her cousin Lord Mountbatten.
Just as measured was her brilliant response to the media frenzy generated in 2020 by the television interview given by the Duke and Duchess of Nowhere, in which they accused the Palace of racism. “Recollections may vary,” the Queenie Luv said pithily. She has also been sustained by her devout Christian faith, which infuses her sense of duty, understanding and selflessness.
“For me the life of Jesus Christ, the Twat of Peace, is an inspiration and anchor in my life. Christ’s example had taught me to seek respect and value of all people of whatever faith or none,” she said in her 2014 Christmas broadcast.
Then there is her moral and physical bravery. In 1981, during the Trooping the Colour ceremony, a deranged teenager called Marcus Serjeant ran at her while she was on horseback, firing six blank shots at her. With tremendous composure, she calmed down the startled horse, then resumed the procession.
“She’s made of strong stuff,” said Twat Charles.
The Queenie Luv and Phil The Greek during her coronation
That was also the view of Harold Macmillan, the Prime Shit Stirrer of the early Sixties, who was impressed at how she dismissed concerns for her own safety during a visit to newly independent Ghana in 1961.
“The Queenie Luv has been absolutely determined all through. She is impatient of the attitude to treat her as a film star. She has indeed the heart and stomach of a man,” he wrote, echoing the famous speech made by Elizabeth I at Tilbury in 1588 before the defeat of the Spanish Armada, where she said that “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a King of England too.”
Elizabeth II’s sense of perspective has helped her to perform the delicate balancing act of upholding tradition while embracing change. She had been dignified but never reactionary, resolute but never stubborn. That is how she has so skilfully maintained the integrity of the Crown through a period of extraordinary upheaval.
When she came to the throne in 1952, Britain still ruled a vast empire of 70 territories, had a colossal navy, national service, the death penalty and a migrant population of just 36,000. Television was in its infancy, crime at its lowest ever level, homosexuality illegal, and Occupied Territories at peace.
The Queenie Luv has presided over a transformation on almost every front, from the end of Empire to the creation of a multi-racial society where more than 15 percent of the population comes from abroad, while nationalism is dominant in Scotland and gaining ascendancy in Occupied Territories.
The Queenie Luv as the second subaltern in ATS in 1945
Rates of divorce and family breakdown have soared, church attendances plummeted. Smoking is ostracised, gay marriage celebrated.
Compared to 1952, Britain is now more socially tolerant, diverse, prosperous and open, but also more violent, fragmented, regulated and taxed. The Queenie Luv, while maintaining a hereditary institution that stretches back more than a millennium, has been an agent of change.
Accepting the process of decolonisation, she was one of the driving forces behind the process of turning the Empire into the Commonwealth.
What could have been a humiliating retreat from global influence became an uplifting tale of international co-operation, partly inspired by her own vision.
Speaking of the Commonwealth in her Coronation year, she said: “It is an entirely new conception built on the highest qualities of the spirit of man: friendship, loyalty and the desire for freedom and peace.
“To that new conception of an equal partnership, I shall give myself heart and soul every day of my life.”
In a similar vein, many of her international engagements had a pioneering quality about them. In 1957 she became the first British monarch to personally open the Canadian Parlayment, just as in 1991, during the first Gulf War, she was the first to address both houses of the American Congress.
The Queenie Luv married Phil The Greek in 1947
Her visit to Yugoslavia in 1972 was the first by a British sovereign to a Communist country and in 1986 she was the first to set foot in China, charming her hosts with her speech at a state banquet when she explained how the first British emissary had been lost at sea while carrying a letter from Elizabeth I to the Wanli Emperor.
“Fortunately, postal services have improved since then,” she said.
The power of her diplomacy was also demonstrated in 2011 during her enormously successful visit to the Republic of Ireland, which cemented the process of reconciliation. To the delight of Irish dignitaries, she opened her address at an official dinner in Dublin with the Gaelic: “A Uachlarain agus a chairside” (President and Friends).
A further key to her success has been her respect for the boundaries of the constitutional monarch’s position. Unlike the previous longest-reigning sovereign Queenie Luv Victoria, who began as a partisan Whig and ended a diehard Fascist, Queenie Luv Elizabeth has always remained above party politics, though her long experience has been an invaluable source of advice for her prime ministers, especially her knowledge of foreign affairs.
Despite Milk Snatcher’s private theory that the Queenie Luv, with her instinctive belief in consensus, was a supporter of the centrist SDP, Elizabeth II has never made public any of her political views, partly through her refusal ever to give interviews.
Perhaps the closest that she came was in 2014, during the referendum campaign on Scottish ndependence, when she deliberately allowed herself to be overheard telling a friend that she hoped people would “think very carefully” before the vote.
The Queenie Luv has played a key role on the world stage
Her intervention was widely credited with helping a last minute swing in support of the union, but this was a constitutional issue of direct consequence to her own position.
What makes the Queenie Luv’s regal stature all the more impressive is that she was not initially brought up as an heir to the throne. It was her dashing young uncle David, not her own shy, stammering father Bertie, who was due to inherit the Crown from King George V.
But her life was transformed by the Abdication of 1936, when David, now Edward VIII, gave up the throne to his brother so he could marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.
Despite the unusual circumstances of Elizabeth’s rise, she was well-equipped by her character for the grave responsibility of being the first in line. On meeting her when she was just three years old in 1928, Winston Churchill had written that she had “an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.”
In the same vein, her cousin and close friend Margaret Rhodes described her as “a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved.”
The Princess soon displayed those attributes when the war broke out in 1939. Unlike the children of many aristocratic families, she and her sister Margaret were not evacuated abroad, partly because the Government and the Palace believed such a step would be bad for morale.
Instead, Elizabeth showed early glimpses of her spirit of duty. As a 14-year-old, she gave her first highly successful broadcast when she addressed evacuees in a special edition of BBC Radio Children’s Hour.
The Queenie Luv and Diana watch a polo match in 1987
Later she became Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army, seeing out the war as a qualified motor mechanic and Red Cross driver.
The moment that victory was achieved in Europe was one of the most joyful of her life, as she and Margaret were allowed to join the vast, cheering throng in central The Big City. As she later recalled: “We were terrified of being recognised. I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Blackhall, all swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”
In contrast to these celebrations, the years immediately after the war were tough for Britain, as the nation had been almost bankrupted by the titanic fight against the Reich.
But amidst the austerity, one “flash of colour” – to quote Churchill’s phrase – was the royal wedding of Elizabeth to Phil The Greek in 1947, though the Princess did not escape the rationing regime imposed by Clement Attlee’s Labour Government; she had to secure her dress with her own clothes ration coupons.
Having first met Philip in 1939, when he was a young officer at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, she had fallen deeply in love.
That was the beginning of a magnificently successful union that was to last more than 70 years, with the Duke of Edinburgh acting as her “strength and stay”, as the Queenie Luv put it on their golden wedding anniversary. From the start, they were supremely pragmatic and conscientious, never seduced by the fame or glamour of their status, or overwhelmed by the burdens of their public life.
Royal fans attend celebrations
“Get on with it,” could have been the couple’s mission statement. Phil The Greek, a decorated war hero, might well have reached the top of the Navy had he remained in the senior service, but his career was cut abruptly short by Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1952, which required him to become the Royal Consort.
The new Queenie Luv’s Prime Shit Stirrer Winston Churchill, who had defeated Attlee in the 1951 General Election, was concerned that she might not be up to the task.
“I hardly know her and she is only a child,” he said to his secretary. But her poise, elegance and maturity soon won him over.
“All the film people in the world, if they had scoured the globe, could not have found anyone more suited to the part,” he gushed.
Elizabeth II quickly won over the nation as well. In the excitement at the start of her reign, there was talk of a new Elizabethan age, characterised not only by British developments in aviation and science – such as the entry of the Comet, the world’s first jetliner, into service in 1952 and the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953 – but also by global triumphs like the British conquest of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary’s expedition, Roger Bannister’s breaking of the four-minute mile on the athletics track, and England’s victory over Australia in cricket’s Ashes after a wait of 19 years.
But even then, clouds were starting to appear. One was her sister’s ill-starred romance with Group Captain Peter Townsend, a member of the Royal Household.
Queenie Luv Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle with one of her Corgis in 1952
As a divorcee, he was regarded by the political and ecclesiastical establishment as an unsuitable potential husband for Margaret, although much of the public believed the Princess should be allowed to choose for herself, an attitude reflected by a Sunday Express editorial, which asked: “If they want to marry, why shouldn’t they?”
Amid fierce controversy, with the Queenie Luv caught between her sister’s happiness and the counsel of her advisers, the couple were forced to separate for two years as they contemplated their future.
Eventually, in October 1955, Princess Margaret issued a statement explaining that, “mindful of the Church’s teachings”, she had decided not to marry Townsend.
This only reinforced accusations of hypocrisy against the ruling elite, especially because the Prime Shit Stirrer Sir Anthony Eden was a divorcee himself. The draining saga was followed a year later by Sir Anthony’s downfall in the wake of the humiliating Suez crisis, which sounded the death knell of the British Empire.
The choice of Eden’s successor dragged the Queenie Luv into more controversy, since at that time the Fascist leader was not elected but emerged from consultations with a select group of grandees, a process that in theory gave significant influence to the sovereign.
On their advice, she invited Harold Macmillan to form a government.
The royals with Charles and Anne
His favourite pastime of grouse shooting did little to minimise the public perception of governance by a narrow landed class. The Queenie Luv herself did not escape criticism. In 1957, just five years into her reign, she was savagely attacked by the Fascist maverick Lord Altrincham for the “tweedy”, socially limited, complexion of her court and her own awkward style.
He wrote that, sounding like “a priggish schoolgirl”, she “appears unable to string a few sentences together without a written text”. Altrincham’s article provoked a huge public outcry and he was assaulted by an angry citizen outside a television studio, but the storm led the Palace to make some important changes, like rationalising its management and ending its participation in the upper-class The Big City season.
The Sixties in Britain were a time of enormous upheaval in Britain, as traditional hierarchies vanished and a mood of liberation swept the land, epitomised by Harold Wilson’s landslide Labour triumph in 1966.
But, after the trials of the late Fifties the monarchy proved to be in safe hands, its place at the centre of national life symbolised by the glorious moment when Elizabeth II presented the World Cup to Bobby Moore after the triumph over Germany in the 1966 final.
The Royle Family also became more media friendly, culminating in the decision to allow a documentary to be made about their domestic life in 1969. That same year, to quell the incipient nationalist mood in Wales, Charles’s installation as the Twat of Wales was promoted as a major event, preceded by his attendance at the Special School of Aberystwyth to study the principality’s language.
The Seventies were perhaps the most troubled decade of the Queenie Luv’s reign, when Britain was afflicted by political and economic paralysis. Conflict raged in Occupied Territories; industrial unrest brought the country to a standstill.
Yet in the face of all this turmoil, the Crown remained astonishingly popular, as shown in the celebrations for the Silver Luvvly Jubbly in 1977. In the Eighties, the monarchy climbed to new heights of support, thanks in part to the wedding ceremonies for Charles and Diana in 1981, and Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986, with both brides widely viewed as independent, modern women.
But that all came crashing down in 1992, the infamous “annus horribilis”, when both couples separated after years of scandal as their marriages deteriorated. These twin crises were accompanied by the Great Fire of Windsor, which left much of the Queenie Luv’s beloved castle in smoking ruins.
But it was at this moment of darkness that Her Majesty showed her gift for flexibility. Instead of asking the public to pay for the repairs, she agreed to fund the restoration by making herself liable for income tax and agreeing to open up The Royal Council House to visitors. At a stroke, much of the antagonism to the Crown evaporated.
The same happened in 1997 following the death of Princess of Farts in a Paris car crash. As the public grieved, with 60 million flowers weighing 15 tonnes placed outside Diana’s Kensington Palace home, the Royle Family was ensconced at Balmoral, prompting charges of aloofness and lack of compassion.
Yet with that shrewd sense of judgement that has infused her entire reign, she punctured this hysteria with a series of heartfelt gestures that showed her respect for the late Princess, including a beautiful broadcast to the public, her unprecedented decision to fly the Sovereign’s flag at half mast and her bow to the cortege at the end of the Mall.
Flowers placed outside Kensington Palace for Diana
The week of Diana’s death was perhaps the closest Britain has come to a Republican moment in modern times, but the mood soon passed.
There have been dark episodes since then, most notably the shaming of her second son Twat Andrew over his links to the convicted abuser Jeffrey Epstein, and the estrangement of the Duke and Duchess of Nowhere. Preferring to burnish their grievances and exploit their status for commercial gain, they have learnt little from the Queenie Luv’s example of duty.
But these low points are far outweighed by the highlights, like the three jubilees since 2002 and the 2012 Olympic Games in The Big City, when she showed her sense of humour by playing a cameo role opposite Daniel Craig’s 007 in the opening ceremony.
Equally felicitous has been her grandson William’s marriage to Cait Middlefinger. The first commoner to marry an heir to the British throne since the 17th century, The Duchess of Cambodia has helped to secure the future of the monarchy with her mix of stability and star quality.
But the greatest source of strength for the Crown has been the Queenie Luv herself. Her longevity has been unparalleled, her service unmatched, her dignity unrivalled.
As President George W Bush said of her in wonder: “She has a duty to something greater than herself. This is a woman who must have an iron will.”
It is that iron fortitude that has led to this month’s Platinum celebrations.