I was nine years old when, the then young, Elizabeth ascended to the British throne. I loved the words “ascended to the throne” – I envisioned knights and ladies fair, jewels and swashbuckling. Back then I still believed in Cinderella, Santa Claus and fairy tale endings although my little sister had destroyed my belief in the Tooth Fair early that year. Up and down the driveway I would walk directing my servants (little sister) to do my bidding.
A year later I watched the coronation of this Queen on our Philco TV: the grainy picture couldn’t prevent my excitement as I studied the clothing, the horses, the procession, the jewels and all the pomp and circumstance as this major world event took place right in front of my eyes. My maternal grandparents were from Scotland and I’m sure my interest came from hearing the stories they told about the monarchy.
Over the years, I learned more about British history and heard the stories about her uncle and his abdication of the throne to marry, the romances of her younger sister, Margaret, the birth of Andrew and Edward while she was Queen, and subsequent marriages (and divorces) of her children and the birth of her grandchildren, the grief-stricken moments of death and assassination. I decided it was very difficult to be a queen.
Much is made of the staid persona of the royal family. But if you look back on all that has happened to them, it is no wonder they found a way to present themselves to the world with dignity and grace. It is hard to imagine being front and center every moment of your very public life.
Elizabeth has been Queen for 60 years, celebrating her diamond jubilee this past week. The only British monarch to reign longer was Queen Victoria. Watching some of the celebration, I had a chance to reflect back on my memories and believe the words said by the Mayor of London sum up her role and the impact she’s had on her country and the world. “She has seen the people of this country grow incomparably richer, healthier and (arguably) happier than they were in 1952.” And that is A Noble Purpose indeed.