CONGRATULATIONS to Her Majesty on 60 glorious years. The Princess Elizabeth was full of personality from the start. In 1928 Winston Churchill visited Balmoral and saw the two-year-old Elizabeth for the first time. He wrote to his wife: “She is a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.”
A year or so later, Sir Owen Morshead told of an incident at Windsor. The officer commanding the guard strode across to where the pram stood and said: “Permission to march off, please, Ma’am?”
There was the inclination of a bonneted head and a wave from a tiny paw.
The Queen has often deployed her ready wit, especially to defuse embarrassing occasions.
Once in a tea-shop near Sandringham, a woman leaned forward and said: “Excuse me, but you do look awfully like the Queen.”
The Queen replied: “How very reassuring.”
At a banquet, she was served with asparagus while her neighbour watched to see how she dealt with the stout, buttery, home-grown stems. When he came to be served, the Queen turned to him and said: “Good. Now it’s my turn to see you make a pig of yourself.”
On another occasion, the Queen’s coach splashed mud over a female pedestrian in Sandringham. The woman shouted, and the Queen answered: “I quite agree.”
The Duke of Edinburgh turned to the Queen and asked: “What did she say, dear?”
The Queen replied: “Bastards!”
At a public ceremony, Margaret Thatcher felt embarrassed because she’d turned up in an outfit closely resembling the Queen’s. Afterwards, Downing Street discreetly asked the palace whether there was any way by which the Prime Minister might know in advance what Her Majesty intended to wear.
The palace replied with a message from the Queen: “Do not worry. The Queen does not notice what other people are wearing.”
But some will say that in the modern world the Queen does not rule. They are mistaken.
The Queen rules through her ministers just as the ministers govern through their civil servants – or at least they used to before the coming of this second rate lot.
Of course, the minister does not attend to every small item of business. It is his job to secure the coherence of his department. And so it is the Queen’s function to secure the coherence of the realm.
TS Eliot wrote in 1939: “You cannot expect continuity and coherence in politics, you cannot expect reliable behaviour on fixed principles persisting through changed situations, unless there is an underlying political philosophy: not of a party, but of the nation.”
The Queen is the centre and guarantee of the nation; its embodiment.
There were 11 years in the 17th Century during which the monarchy was abolished and the country was governed by a puritanical, politically-correct dictatorship, until the Cromwellian totalitarianism was kicked out and we got our king back.
The cries at the time of Cromwell were eerily similar to what we are hearing today: the need to “modernise” – and so destroy the traditional institutions which have served the country well for centuries.
Who can forget that insulting farce when the Queen was dragged into the Millennium Dome and obliged to lock arms and sing Auld Lang Syne with Tony Blair?
Her Majesty has served our country with distinction and self-sacrifice for 60 years.
Every day she gives us a living example of what love of country means. Long may she reign. God bless her.