Determined Queen can't wait for birthday to be over – monarch will not vanish like Charles

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Determined Queen can't wait for birthday to be over – monarch will not vanish like Charles

Queen Elizabeth exits state coach during 1953 coronationBut the Queen is also bound by a consummate dedication to service, duty and loyalty and she

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Queen Elizabeth exits state coach during 1953 coronation

But the Queen is also bound by a consummate dedication to service, duty and loyalty and she knows she cannot completely ignore reaching her 95th birthday today – a milestone that brings her ever closer to being one of only 15 monarchs in the world, dating back to the 15th century, to celebrate their Platinum Jubilee. The last royal to commemorate 70 years on the throne was King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in 2016.

While preparations for the Queen’s Platinum celebrations are already underway, with a four-day Bank Holiday announced for June next year, she could be forgiven for wondering how to get through this week – never mind the next 12 months.

For this is a turbulent time almost without precedent for our monarch.

She soldiered on after the passing of her beloved mother and sister, who died within seven weeks of one another in 2002 just before her 75th birthday, and following the death of Princess Diana when the nation turned on the Royal Family for their decision to remain at Balmoral and not fly flags at half mast.

But few could have foreseen the perfect storm of events that would overshadow the Queen’s 95th birthday and how different it should have been.

Coming just four days after she laid to rest Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, in the midst of a global pandemic and with her family still reeling from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Queen might like to follow her eldest son’s lead and disappear.

Queen Elizabeth II

It is thought the Queen will celebrate her birthday in keeping with the Covid-19 rules (Image: Getty )

Just as she will continue to reign without her husband by her side, so she will mark her birthday alone for the first time this year, just days after a funeral service that bore Philip’s touch and celebrated his life and legacy.

Unlike Prince Charles, however, who is reported to have gone to his hideaway in Wales to come to terms with the death of his father, the Queen cannot and would never simply vanish from public life. But that is not to say she will be seen publicly today, first and foremost because she and the rest of the Royal Family remain in mourning.

It is thought the Queen will celebrate her birthday in keeping with current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, enjoying a “quiet lunch” with close family members at Windsor Castle. This could include Harry after reports the Prince may delay his return to California and his family to help mark his grandmother’s birthday.

The Queen is also likely to do away with her usual birthday portrait so that the Royal Family’s social media channels are likely to be the only way The Firm will commemorate the date. For the second year running – again because of Covid – the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the gun salutes in Hyde Park and the Tower of London that
ordinarily mark the monarch’s birthday, will not go ahead.

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Princess Elizabeth had to wait till after her 21st birthday to announce her engagement to Philip (Image: Getty)

Last year the Queen was adamant there “would be no special measures which would go against Government coronavirus restrictions”.

The Trooping the Colour ceremony that marks Her Majesty’s second or official birthday – and has done so for that of every British sovereign for more than 260 years – will also be a muted affair this year.

Last year, the Welsh Guards and Massed Bands of the Household Division led a scaled down celebration, dubbed a “mini Trooping” in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh had decamped last March for the first lockdown.

How different the world looked three years ago when, for Her Majesty’s 92nd birthday, the nation threw an elaborate concert at the Royal Albert Hall. The star-studded gala was attended by all senior members of the Royal Family – except the Duchess of Cambridge who was about to give birth to Prince Louis – and included bride-to-be Meghan Markle, who despite not yet being formally a royal, was invited by the Queen.

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The Queen’s first birthday was spent apart from her parents as they left the UK for a tour of Fiji (Image: Keystone Press )

Last year, the monarch chose to release previously unseen film footage of her and Princess Margaret as children at Buckingham Palace.

With her unshakeable devotion to duty, it is hard to remember sometimes that the Queen, like her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria before her, was never expected to rule.

As the eldest daughter of King George V’s second son, Prince Albert (later King George VI), hers was a life destined to be lived in relative privacy, until the 1936 abdication of her uncle, Edward VIII, after a reign of just 325 days, changed the course of British history.

The Queen was born shortly before 3am on April 21, 1926, by Caesarean section in a townhouse in Mayfair belonging to the Queen Mother’s family. “We have long wanted a child to make our happiness complete,” wrote her beloved father, Bertie.

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The Queen spent the morning of her 10th birthday riding her white pony Snowball (Image: Bettmann Archive)

With her rosy cheeks, blue eyes and fair hair, the baby princess was destined for a good marriage and little more.

Ironically, given the course her life would take, Bertie wrote to his parents, Queen Mary and King George V: “I do hope that you and Papa are as delighted as we are to have a granddaughter, or would you sooner have had another grandson?”

Her Majesty is now the world’s oldest living and longest-reigning monarch. Her rule has seen 14 prime ministers, 14 US presidents and seven Popes in office. She is the most travelled monarch in history, having visited more than 116 countries and is patron of over 600 charities.

She has conferred over 400,000 honours and given her assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament and, excluding 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Princes Andrew and Edward has attended every State Opening of Parliament.

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One of the Queen’s most memorable gifts will have been her first corgi Susan (Image: Getty)

Many of the greatest socio-economic changes of the 20th century have occurred during the Queen’s reign. In 1953, the year of her Coronation, Britain was considered a fundamentally white, Christian country where men dominated politics and industry, and the majority of women stayed at home.

Today the monarch’s realm is a culturally diverse one in which multi-faith communities live side by side and women are often the primary breadwinners.

An unlikely feminist role model, the Queen has held the highest position in the land for seven decades and has done so because of her willingness to adapt and evolve.

The QueenThe Queen

The Queen spent her 50th birthday at Windsor Castle in 1976 (Image: Bettmann Archive )

She made the “walkabout” the norm, agreed to open Buckingham Palace to the paying public and embraced social media, with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

She is a monarch of numerous firsts: the first reigning British sovereign to visit Saudi Arabia (1979), China (1986) and Moscow’s Red Square (1994); the first to set foot inside a mosque, Hindu temple and the Vatican; the first to open the Canadian Parliament, to broadcast a televised Christmas address, to fly in a helicopter and the first to celebrate a Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

With Prince William and Prince Charles – Britain’s longest-serving heir apparent – waiting in the wings and with the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from royal duties, the future of the British monarchy ultimately rests in her successors’ hands but Her Majesty will leave behind the greatest blueprint on how the job’s done.

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Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets to sing Happy Birthday to the Queen for her 90th (Image: WPA Pool)

The reigns of Charles, William and George will be elderly ones and so it will be imperative for each to find a way to maintain the monarchy’s relevance in an ever more youth obsessed culture. But that is a story for the future.

Today the Queen will be largely on her own, alone with her thoughts and memories as she prepares to navigate a new and untrodden path for herself and the British Royal Family.

The hurdle will be inexorably harder without her consort, her “strength and stay” by her side but it is one which with her Christian faith, her family and the support of a country forever grateful for the steady guidance and service she has shown over nearly 70 years, she will overcome.



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