Just when you think our Happy and Glorious Sovereign Lady had done it all, she then goes and breaks another milestone record.
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We’ve had a Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee. She’s had more Prime Ministers learning at her knee than any other Monarch in British History. She’s elevated the stature of the British Monarchy more than anyone else, and her approval ratings have never been higher, and now, on April 21st....................; 'Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith, Duchess of Edinburgh, Countess of Merioneth, Baroness Greenwich, Duke of Lancaster, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy, Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Garter, Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Sovereign of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Sovereign of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Sovereign of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Sovereign of the Distinguished Service Order, Sovereign of the Imperial Service Order, Sovereign of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Sovereign of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Sovereign of the Order of British India, Sovereign of the Indian Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of Burma, Sovereign of the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Sovereign of the Royal Family Order of King Edward VII, Sovereign of the Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Sovereign of the Royal Victorian Order, Sovereign of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem' (Yup that is her full title!!) - is going to turn 90!
If you’ve managed to make it past Her titles, you’re in for a treat – she is Elizabeth the Great, and Her influence and affection has transcended generations for Her 90 years. But how did Her Maj come to be Queen of this Sceptered Isle, and the Isles beyond the sea? Well, let’s take a look, as Handy Histories gives you the life of our Diamond Queen.
Elizabeth was born, to the then Duke of York and future King George VI, and his wife Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Mum, in Mayfair, in 1926. She was born into an idealised family unit, followed by her younger sister Margaret in 1930, the Duke of York called his little family unit, within the sprawling British Royal Family, “We Four”… bless! Days spent riding, walking, cycling and playing with dogs and horses, the family lived in bliss. Down to earth, connected with the people and an ideal image of family life.
This was all in stark contrast with the then King, Edward VIII, whose lack of a family, and fondness for other men’s wives was well known!! Teddy 8 didn’t ever make his coronation, deciding to give up the throne for his twice divorced, American and common mistress Wallace Simpson. He abdicated in 1936, passing the troubles and tribulations of rule on his younger brother.
Shy, retiring, country mouse that he was, George VI as he became, would re-invent the monarchy. It is said that the abdication and inheritance of the throne killed the Queen’s father – thrusting him into the public eye and taking him away from his idyllic life with his family, the King reigned for only 16 years. When he became King, Princess Elizabeth became the Heir Apparent. George VI was a symbol of strength and reliability during the horrors of World War Two, but it was his daughter Elizabeth, who really made a name for herself during the conflict. Whilst her father ran the country, refusing to leave London, and her mother practiced with a revolver in the gardens of Buckingham Palace so she would never be taken alive by the Nazi’s (!); Elizabeth remodelled herself. Entering the Auxiliary Territorial Service, she served with them until the war ended. Taking her driving test, passing and driving throughout the war for the service, Her Majesty is still to be seen driving through the grounds of Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral to this day!
At war’s close, the king became weaker and weaker. He was operated on for cancer, and gradually slipped into illness. The last time they saw each other was on a cold and dreary day, at a London airport, where the King saw his daughter and heir off on a tour of the Commonwealth. He waved, and as the doors of the aircraft closed, as did the last days of her beloved father, George VI. He died in the early hours of 6th Feb 1952. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she became the very second her father passed away, heard the news in Kenya where she was staying in Treetops resort. The news was broken to her by her loving and devoted husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She returned as Queen, and was guided through those rocky times by the great Winston Churchill as her Prime Minister. He was the first of her current 12 that she has seen in office.
Her Coronation on 2nd June, 1953, was watched by over 27 million people, and when you think that the population was only around 36 million and there were only 3.2 million TV licences at that time – that takes some doing! Her reign has seen it’s up and downs – the divorce of her sister, her daughter and two sons were dealt with supreme grace and decorum. She has never put a perfectly shoed foot wrong – treading the line so carefully between public figure and Head of State and Church. The guidance she received from her father, Grandmother and her incredibly long-lived Mother, Queen Elizabeth, was invaluable.
Elizabeth has been the personification of our monarchy now for 63 years; and in this humble historian’s view, has simply been exquisite.And now she is turning 90, I hope that our Gracious Lady won’t mind my mentioning her age, but bloody hell is it worth mentioning! There is no retirement policy for a Monarch such as Her Majesty. We don’t have a history of abdication in this country – her Uncle Edward was an anomaly. The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Vatican have all seen voluntary abdications in the last 20 years; and none of them came close to the grand age of our Sovereign Lady.Now some Republican’s out there would say “ Well why would she abdicate? All that money, houses, cars…” I say, RUBBISH. The Palaces are the world’s nicest prisons. The time is not The Queen’s. Her time is not her own. Where many of her age group are settling down in the afternoons to have a cuppa and watch Countdown, Her majesty is on her third or fourth engagement of the day (343 official engagements in 2014 alone!), on a train to Leicester, driving to her third community centre of the day, or preparing for a visit from Presidents, Popes and Kings. By all accounts, she enjoys it, and certainly shows no signs of slowing down; but her dedication to this country and the Commonwealth is extraordinary – she is a shining beacon for what we stand for.
In an interview for his 90th birthday, the Duke of Edinburgh said it was time to slow down, that the country didn’t
“want nonagenarians as heads of organisations”.
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I’m not sure if you are with me, but I don’t see Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a nonagenarian, I see her as timeless. I see Her Majesty as a woman who can talk easily to Chelsea Pensioners and school children alike.
Elizabeth celebrates her 90’th Birthday on April 21st, 2016.
Handy Histories and everyone here at Up All Hours send Her Majesty the most sincere and loyal best wishes for this wonderful occasion.