It is perhaps a sign of the times that I write this with a sense that what follows may invite some form of judgement, but write it I shall. I believe that anyone who has nothing to learn from the example set by The Queen must surely define their own life by very narrow or frankly misplaced parameters.
I’ve heard all the arguments against both our monarch and the Royal Family… A waste of taxpayers’ money. An anachronism in the twenty-first century. Everything that is wrong with the class system. The head of a deeply dysfunctional family. An affront to the republican cause. And so they go on.
My view is simple: whether or not one believes in or profoundly disagrees with the views of the critics, the example The Queen has herself set over the last seventy-plus years stands up to even the harshest scrutiny.
It might be argued that longevity brings with it the opportunity to build and then articulate wisdom. Perhaps so, but that does not make it an inevitability. Yet watching the BBC documentary featuring the previously unseen family film footage, and listening to The Queen’s commentary, I felt I was relearning life lessons from an expert.
Lazy platitudes written by a sycophantic script-writer, it might be suggested. I doubt it. I cannot imagine the Queen articulating a single word in which she does not believe.
Some might wish to point out that Her Majesty hasn’t always “got it right”, perhaps most memorably at the time of the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales. But in a reign that now extends over seven decades, and a public role that goes back as far as her twenty-first birthday on the 21st April 1947 – that’s right 1947! – I challenge any detractors to name but a handful of missteps. Good luck to anyone else trying to match up to that seventy-five year track record!
And sometimes her actions have eclipsed a thousand politicians’ words: remember the scene in St. George’s Chapel just over a year ago, when on the 17th April The Queen sat alone at her husband Prince Philip’s funeral, black face mask covering her mouth and nose.
I doubt anyone would have begrudged her a happy ‘retirement’ in 2003 after 50 years on the throne, at the age of 77. After all most people expect to work fifteen years less than that and retire ten years younger. I also doubt for a single moment it entered her mind to do so.
So here are the characteristics I most admire about The Queen: consistency, curiosity, dignity, discretion, fidelity, fortitude, humour, loyalty, modesty, open-mindedness, resilience and wisdom. In this age of “fake news” some might argue I cannot possibly know whether these are truly the attributes of ‘the real Queen’. Maybe, but I choose to believe that in her case appearances meet authenticity.
Enjoy the Jubilee Weekend!