The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

BEFORE HER TIME

- 33

that you get a glimpse of the Queen as a woman.

It may be hard to see in the wizened geriatrics of today, but Elizabeth and Philip were the golden couple of the 1940s, lithe and beautiful and very much in love, with an easy rapport that had a very modern equilibriu­m. They remain in every sense a team of two.

Charles, on the other hand, is a slow learner, who took half a lifetime finally to achieve a happy union, with the mistress who had caused Diana so much pain, Camilla Parker-Bowles. If the Queen lives another decade, as her own mother did, then Charles will be 76 if he is crowned King, hardly an age to learn a new job, or inject fresh vigour into the monarchy.

His mother took the throne as a 25-year-old with two children on the death of her beloved father in 1952.

She grew as she laboured to learn how to carry such a burden of responsibi­lity.

But Prince William, now a steady 33-yearold, is the perfect age to ascend. If the crown were to skip a generation, he would be young enough to breathe new life into the monarchy, but old enough to have developed wisdom.

For one thing, he has already shown better judgment than his father in the most important decision of his life — choosing a wife. Kate Middleton is no less admirable as a future Queen than Elizabeth II herself.

1. Birthday greetings:

Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 with some of her 80th birthday cards at Buckingham Palace. Picture: AFP Photo/Fiona Hanson

Baby Princess Elizabeth with her grandmothe­r Queen Mary.

2. Family snap:

3. Kiss for a Queen:

Prince Charles kisses his mother’s hand at her Diamond Jubilee concert in London in June, 2012. Picture: AFP Photo/Leon Neal

The Queen, with Prince Edward standing on her left, watches the second day of racing at the Epsom Derby festival in June, 2012. Picture: AFP Photo

The Queen Mother with daughters Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret celebratin­g her 80th birthday at Windsor in 1980 in matching blue satin. Picture: Norman Parkinson

4. Derby Day:

5. Spare heir:

6. Chivalry reigns:

The Queen arrives at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in June, 2005, for the annual Service for The Order of the Garter. Picture: AFP Photo/Andrew Parsons

Renowned for her love of animals, especially corgis, the Queen couldn’t resist petting a pooch while out and about in May, 1998. Picture: AP

7. Regal touch:

So let us celebrate the Queen’s long reign and pay tribute to the indomitabl­e character of a woman before her time, as well as to the husband who has been by her side all the way.

But when her reign is over, let us also acknowledg­e that William and Kate are the successors most worthy, and leave Charles to play the role of doting grandpa. Unless you are a republican, of course, in which case you should be barracking for King Charles.

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