The Queen – much to admire one feels

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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is celebrated this weekend, 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II reigning. 60 years is a long time, an amazing achievement. Whatever people in England think about the pros and cons of the monarchy in theory, most people like the Queen and are very fond of her. Not so much her son, generally, and of course everyone goes wild for her grandsons, the charming Princes.

I enjoyed reading a few quotes about the Queen and what she’s really like, in the BA in-flight magazine as I flew from London to Cape Town.

“She’s always in touch and extremely sharp. In the great scheme of things, you are conscious that you are her 12th prime minister.” – David Cameron, Prime Minister

“She’ll want to hand over knowing that she’s done everything she can for the country and that she’s not let anyone down – she minds an awful lot about that.” – Prince William

“At the end of the day, she has put this country way before anything that she’s ever wanted to do. It’s her job.” – Prince Harry

“One feels the buck stops here, so to speak.” – The Queen

“Behind an important title is a very kind and compassionate woman. She’s got a neat twinkle in her eye.” – George W Bush, former President of the US

“She sleeps well and she’s got very good legs – she can stand for a long time. The Queen is as strong as a yak.” – The late Lord Charteris, former Private Secretary[1]

Certainly awareness of and respect for the Queen has changed with the generations. My grandmother would raise her voice (a rare occurrence) and tut with disgust if we didn’t immediately stand for the national anthem before the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day. And yet I recently read a newspaper article bemoaning the fact that many children in the UK don’t seem to have a clue what the Jubilee is about or even who the Queen is. One child responded that he thought the Jubilee was ‘something about boats on the river?’ and others were surprised to hear that the Queen was ‘Prince William’s granny’. There has been a move to have special lessons in schools to teach kids about the Monarchy and the Jubilee.

However, another poll of school children, reported in the Telegraph today[2], found that the children surveyed thought the Queen was the most important person in Britain (with 91% of votes) and Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge came in second and third place. It’s not surprising that Prince William got more than double the number of votes as his father, Prince Charles.

Although her power is limited, she still has an important role in British society today. She is incredibly hard working and extremely active for her age, 86 years old. She seems to have a genuine concern for the state of the nation and for individual people’s lives. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister, commented on how surprisingly streetwise she was. She is also a woman of very strong faith and convictions. Her last Christmas Day message, which is one of the few times we get to hear words she has written herself, was clearer about her Christian faith than previous years, supposedly because of relaxed editorial restrictions. She talked about importance of family and community and the power and significance of forgiveness, much needed today as the “world is going through difficult times”. “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed,” she said. One key theme in the speech was courage and hope in adversity and the ways that had been demonstrated in the Commonwealth over the past year.

I just found out that aparently she is the first British monarch to have reached a Diamond wedding anniversary. Married for 60 years (in fact it’s 65 years this year). Maybe that’s an even bigger achievement than being Queen for 60 years.

I find much to admire in the Queen: her faith, her serving attitude, her commitment, her compassion and her perseverance, character traits that many of us from the UK could do with developing a little more of. Well, certainly I could.


Photos from www.royal.gov.uk

[1] Quotes from Robert Hardman, the author of the Queen’s biography, entitled ‘Our Queen’.

[2] Who do children think are the most important people in Britain? It’s not who you’d expect, The Telegraph 1st June 2012 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/theroyalfamily/9299485/Who-do-children-think-are-the-most-important-people-in-Britain-Its-not-who-youd-expect.html

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