So, Queen Elizabeth is celebrating sixty years on the British throne – or is it still the Commonwealth throne? – with a whole string of parties, good wishes pouring in from all fronts and, I dare say, the usual pleas from republicans to ban the monarchy and get back to the good old days of Puritanism and Oliver Cromwell.
I can’t imagine too many ordinary people attending the main party, but plenty enjoying themselves out in the streets, with bunting and colored flags, perhaps the odd glass of champagne – or sparkling wine if the household budget is a little too tight this coming month – and good wishes for their icon.
What has the Queen done for the British? It’s a bit like the question John Cleese poses in The Life of Brian, the list is seemingly long and, in many ways, full of things which ordinary people either don’t know about or simply don’t take into account. She is the one stable factor in British history since the end of the Second World War, a uniting factor, a figurehead.
That her family has brought disrepute onto the name of the House of Windsor hardly needs mentioning, but it should also be remembered that this is a recurring factor for each and every monarch since the first ape decided to press laurels across its forehead and proclaim authority over territory, over other life forms. That she and her family cost the British taxpayer a small fortune each year, despite the fact that they have a large fortune tucked away, can be weighed up against the income they generate in tourism and Royals-related products. It is all a case of weights and measures, of balancing one against the other.
As a child I wished to be a princess – well, prince or princess, who doesn’t? – but I wouldn’t exchange my life for her responsibilities for any amount of money, for fame, for recognition, for anything. She does a good job, long may she carry on doing it and, when it finally comes about, may her successor manage to inherit her wisdom, patience and good nature to the good and benefit of the nation.
- Viktoria Michaelis.