The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
A WOMAN WELL On September 9, the Queen will become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, breaking Queen Victoria’s 63 years and seven months record. We take a look at her decades on the throne.
Despite reports of an Islamic State plot to blow her up, no one doubted that the Queen would show up at a memorial service in central London this month to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II. Stoic and unflinching, Her Majesty admirably embodies the notions of duty, honour and sacrifice from a bygone era.
Now aged in her 90th year, she will become the longest-serving British monarch in history next month, and no King or Queen has served her subjects more loyally.
Even through the humiliating public soap operas of her children’s chaotic marriages, her “annus horribilis”, and the tragedy of her troubled daughter-in-law Diana’s death in a Paris car crash, the Queen has maintained the dignity of the crown, and the stiff upper lip of the Blitz.
Born in 1926, she represents a generation which shaped our world for the better. While everything else has changed beyond recognition, she remains the one constant.
And, after 63 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II shows no sign of wanting to abdicate, which is just as well for the future of the monarchy, and an ongoing heartache for Australia’s republicans.
She has said the job is for life and, more than anyone, she knows the flaws of the putative heir, her self-centred eldest son Charles, 66, and the reasons for his relative unpopularity, especially in far-flung reaches of the Commonwealth.
At the time of the constitutional convention 17 years ago, the affection which most Australians have for the Queen kept republican wolves from the door. Charles, on the other hand, would be far easier to cast aside than either his mother or his son, William, 33.
Of course the monarchy is more than the person who sits on the throne, but in this era of personality politics, Charles’ insecurities and wretched betrayals of his late wife Diana make him difficult to embrace.
The Queen on the other hand, while appearing cold and remote, has been on the throne so long that her very lack of visible emotion has become an asset. Despite a lifetime of constant scrutiny, she remains enigmatic and unknowable.
No opportunity there for contempt born of over familiarity. Instead, she engenders affection and respect.
Strangely, a word to describe her is unpretentious. The Queen appears more at home in a drab scarf walking her corgis in the rain than wearing a tiara at a state dinner. Even when she meets Australian journalists, she is down to earth and humorous.
An avid horse-breeder, she’s also quite tech savvy, as we learn in a new biography by Ingrid Seward, having become a proficient internet surfer, with her own Black Berry smartphone and an iPad.
A working mother before it was fashionable, she is known for her unwavering Christian faith, punctuality, orderliness and work ethic. She reportedly has acknowledged that she should have spent more time with Charles when he was an emotionally needy child, instead of delegating his upbringing to nannies and her own mother, while she worked.
Perhaps, also, he sensed there was no room in her heart for anyone but the love of her life, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
It is through their almost 68-year marriage