THE PLATINUM JUBILEE

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The Platinum Jubilee commemorating 70 years on the throne by Queen Elizabeth II is celebrated this year. The Queen of Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations including Australia, NZ and Canada and less Commonwealth Countries, ascended the throne at age 25 in 1952 in June after her father, George VI, died in February that year. 

Britain and Wales particularly had celebrations which peaked during Jubilee weekend which was two days declared as public holidays and a weekend from 2 to 5 June. The Trooping of the Colour was the first of the official ceremonies and was followed by a service of thanksgiving in St Paul’s Cathedral, the Ascot races; a pageant along the Mall in London and a concert with stage and all set up in Buckingham Palace in the large area which encircles the Queen Victoria  Memorial. This iconic structure comprises the Dominion Gates of  Canada, Australia, and South and West Africa, with a golden figure at its top. Grand meals were held in the Palace along with street parties all over Britain. A parade of Corgis – the Queens favourite breed of dog – was held in London.

Her reign has been the longest of a British monarch, the one just below her record being that of Queen Victoria who ruled for 63 years and 3 months, She was born in 1819 and died in 1901, She married her cousin Prince Albert in 1840 at age 20 and had children and grandchildren who became Kings and Queens all over Europe and Russia. Queen Elizabeth is her great-great- grandchild.

Judgement of person and role

Elizabeth is acknowledged by all to be an absolutely steadfast person, devoted to her country and completely committed to her service to Britain and the Commonwealth. After being crowned the Queen promised the country she would be devoted to it until the day she died. She has been a devoted wife to Prince Phillip which was not an easy task. Sometimes he would shoot his mouth off. When he accompanied the Queen to China, he said that Beijing was horrible and told British students that if they stayed too long they would become slit eyed. But he was a good husband and very conscious of the consort’s role he had to play, and played it well.

Queen Elizabeth did her duty by her country fully being an outstanding person who you could look up to. At about the middle of her reign there were murmurs of abolishing the monarchy as too costly and the only job done by her was to be a tourist attraction of UK. These ideas of doing away with the monarchy were mooted by anti-royalists and republicans. The household modernised itself, moved somewhat with the times. Diana instigated the process of drawing the monarchy closer to the public, making it more visible and far less remote.  The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, from a middle class British family, married Prince William, second in line to the throne, has done much to show the royals are a family with family values like any other good unit.

Trying times

Queen Elizabeth II has had even more than her fair share of troublous times, problems to contend with. The royal family of King George VI, his wife and two daughters stayed on in London during the entirety of WWII and the German blitz. Then came the death of her father, rather prematurely when she was just married and on holiday. She had to take on the onerous role of Queen after that.

She named 1992 ‘Annus Horribilis’ when her beloved Windsor Castle suffered a devastating fire, damaging 100 rooms. It was the year the Heir to the Throne had to separate from Diana who wanted it. Her second son Andrew also separated from his wife Sarah Ferguson. It was the Queen’s fortieth year on the throne.

The following year saw the divorce of Diana and Charles. That was a blow. Worse was to come the next year when Diana was killed in a car accident in Paris while with Dodi Fayed. The Royal Family was spending summer in Balmoral Castle when the news came and the Queen stayed on. Heavy criticism was levelled at her and even revolt may have come about in honour of  the woman they called the People’s Princess. (Many adore Diana and see only that her husband continued his love affair with Camilla. In my judement she was more to blame: far more capricious, had affairs with many men and went for a Muslim surgeon who refused to marry her and then to the playboy Dodi.) Tony Blair, then PM, helped to tide over the anger of the people. Advised by him, the Queen returned to London, did walkabouts and spoke with people, Prince Philip beside her and Diana’s two boys.The flag over Buckingham Palace was flown at half mast,

Disapproving at first, the Queen accepted the marriage of Charles to Camilla in 2011 and latterly said she would be named Queen Camilla when Charles ascended the throne. The death of Prince Phillip at 99 was an extreme blow to her.  She also suffered the shame of her second son Andrew being charged of having sex with an underage girl. He has been told he holds no position in the monarchy, just as Prince Harry, who opted out of royal duties with his wife. The Queen contracted Covid-19 early this year and was not able to attend all the Jubilee celebrations. Now she is an admired, firm favourite of the people and the British Monarchy will continue.

Kumari