Queen Elizabeth II — and why I’m happy she has long reigned over us.
I’m a royalist, at least for now. The lives and reigns of our past kings and queens have always fascinated me — some more than others — because they are part and parcel of our history and heritage, and hugely intertwined with the pomp and circumstance for which Britain is so renowned. And I do enjoy gentlemen in jazzy uniforms on beautiful horses pulling a fancy carriage. No bibbidi bobbidi boo required.
And today marks a pretty hefty milestone in UK royal history because at around 17.30 BST (British Summer Time), Queen Elizabeth ll will have reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and approximately 30 minutes, and will thereby surpass the current record held by Queen Victoria who reigned from 20th June 1837 to 22 January 1901.
And who knew, back in 1952 when the British began to sing ‘Long may she reign over us’, that 63 years and 7 months later Queen Elizabeth ll would still be our monarch and head of state? Few. And fewer still would have bet a farthing on it.
I hold a lot of respect for Queen Elizabeth ll. She leads by dignified example and expresses political impartiality. She’s in it for the UK, the Commonwealth, her quiet belief in God, justice and peace. I doubt there’s any particular order.
If she has a personal agenda beyond backing the right horse (literally) and wanting what’s best for her people, I have yet to fathom it. From where I’m standing, which admittedly is far afield from where she’s standing and my only knowledge of her is via books and the media, Queen Elizabeth has put duty before self in precisely the way she promised to do when she ascended to the throne in 1952. She’s a woman of her word.
Now. I hear the republican clamour and feel a certain urge to be fair.
I agree. Inheriting the position of head of state is an antiquated system that seems to fly in the face of modern society. Heck, we ought to be allowed a say in selecting the ultimate head of our country. Right?
I’d far rather have an heir born into the job (yes, I realise Queen Elizabeth did not become heir until aged 10, but meh) and trained accordingly than a political system that requires a fortune to win the presidency and leaves the country wide open to rapid changes in policy and foreign standing. Nor would I want a so-called president that held so much power that (s)he to all intents and purposes is a dictator in disguise.
The beauty of the monarchy is the stability and wealth of experience it offers any new UK prime minister, a resource recognised by the fact that he, throughout his term, holds weekly meetings with the Queen.
And there is no disputing Queen Elizabeth’s experience. As she allegedly told the uppity Mr Blair after his landslide victory in 1997, ‘You are my 10th prime minister’.
In my opinion, Queen Elizabeth keeps Britain on an even keel. We may swerve to the left and right as governments come and go, but she has her hand firmly on the tiller of state representation and commends a good deal of respect from statesmen around the world.
Which is worth its weight in gold, this day and age. And constitutes a worthy return on the taxpayers’ investment.
Ultimately, I suspect, the popularity and regard enjoyed by Queen Elizabeth boils down to her own dignified demeanour coupled with likeability. Prince Charles will not inherit the genuine respect that Queen Elizabeth commands — that must be earned. And that may prove to be his biggest challenge. Time will tell whether the republicans will have a sharper axe to grind in the face of a less popular, aka weaker, head of state.
Because there will, of course, come a day when we will bury our Queen, and with her a vault of experience and goodwill. I for one, unless she outlives me, will be very sorry to see her go.
But I trust and believe that history will treat her with the kindness and esteem she so richly deserves. After unerringly and loyally serving our country for at least 63 years and 7 months.