Her Majesty’s 70-year tenure on the throne is a stunning achievement.
Queen Victoria, who was the previous record holder, was head of state for 63 years.
But the present queen’s record is not merely one of longevity. Imagine, for example, if an unpopular incumbent had been wearing the crown for that length of time — it is impossible in those circumstances to imagine the current high levels of public support for royalty . Instead, the Queen has been a much loved and admired source of continuity and stability at a time of huge change for the United Kingdom.
Britain in 1952 was a very different country to today, still in austerity after the Second World War and still in possession of an empire (albeit a rapidly diminishing one).
Since then there have been radical social, cultural and economic changes.
The nation had not for example even come close to joining the EU in February 1952 (in fact, its precursor the European Coal and Steel Community had not even been established). Now we are in the early stages of Brexit.
One of the most important aspects of the queen’s rule in a time of great change has been her rigid political neutrality. Occasionally there are reports or speculation about her opinion on specific issues but she has never come close to confirming such or divulging her overall views. If she had done it would have compromised her appeal to the whole country.
It was back in 1986 that Her Majesty reached the then retirement age of women of 60. Few people would have blamed her for doing what almost everyone else does at that stage of life and had begun to wind down her public duties.
Instead, she has kept up a punishing schedule of public engagements until her late 90s. It is that remarkable sense of public duty that people across the kingdom will be wanting to celebrate in this platinum jubilee year.
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