A Ju­bilee worth cel­e­brat­ing

THE SPEC­TA­TOR’S VIEW

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION - Paul Ber­ton

The Queen cel­e­brated her Sap­phire Ju­bilee pri­vately this week at her es­tate in San­dring­ham, in eastern Eng­land. We of­fer her our con­grat­u­la­tions.

A pri­vate cel­e­bra­tion on the day it­self has al­ways been her prac­tice, for it is not just the an­niver­sary of Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s 65 years on the Bri­tish throne, it is also the an­niver­sary of her fa­ther’s death, a trau­matic event for most, and es­pe­cially for a young heir to the throne.

Now 90, the world’s long­est re­main­ing monarch and the first Bri­tish sov­er­eign to hold a Sap­phire Ju­bilee, a pub­lic show is un­likely, cer­tainly not the way her Sil­ver, Gold and Di­a­mond Ju­bilees (25, 50 and 60 re­spec­tively) were cel­e­brated.

There were, of course, gun salutes, a new stamp and coins, and a reis­sued por­trait this week, but large-scale fes­tiv­i­ties are un­likely. It was much the same dur­ing her Ruby Ju­bilee, which marked her 40 years on the throne and was equally low-key.

Still, her reign is re­mark­able, and wor­thy of re­flec­tion by all of us. She is the world’s old­est monarch. She has been on the throne longer than even her great­great-great grand­mother Queen Vic­to­ria. She has had 13 Bri­tish prime min­is­ters serve dur­ing her reign, and 12 Cana­dian prime min­is­ters, and met 12 U.S. pres­i­dents.

The Queen has vis­ited Hamil­ton three times dur­ing her reign, of course, once in 1951 when she was Princess, again in 1959 as Queen, and most re­cently in 2002, when she pre­sented colours to the Argyll and Suther­land High­landers of Canada at Copp’s Coli­seum. Her vis­its to Canada — 22 — have out­num­bered those to any other one na­tion. While re­mark­able, it all seems some­how un­sur­pris­ing to­day, mostly be­cause she has han­dled most chal­lenges so well.

When crowned, she would have been aware of the chal­lenges ahead. She would have been in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with the crises that en­veloped her fa­ther, the chal­lenges he over­came, the bur­den he car­ried.

And she would have had to ex­pect, like the rest of us, that the var­i­ous dif­fi­cul­ties that be­fell, or were cre­ated, by her var­i­ous rel­a­tives and an­ces­tors would be vis­ited upon her as well.

It would not have been at all easy, be­gin­ning with the ab­di­ca­tion of her un­cle, the death of her fa­ther, to var­i­ous eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal prob­lems and so­cial up­heaval in Bri­tain and around the world, to var­i­ous fam­ily tragedies and tri­als.

There have been many who have crit­i­cized her, and even more who have crit­i­cized the monar­chy. But it is prob­a­bly Queen El­iz­a­beth her­self — her unique abil­i­ties, her ex­tra­or­di­nary qual­i­ties, and her own sense of duty — who is largely re­spon­si­ble for the fact that most Bri­tons still sup­port the monar­chy to­day.

A happy an­niver­sary in­deed.

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