A Jubilee worth celebrating
THE SPECTATOR’S VIEW
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.