6th February 1952- 8th September 2022. More than seventy years, how did the late Queen put up with it for seventy years?
Some fifteen years ago, I had the privilege of spending ten days at Saint George’s House within the walls of Windsor Castle. It was a time filled with a sense of history, a sense of beauty, and a sense of wonder at how someone could live their entire life in public gaze.
Saint George’s Chapel, the cathedral-sized place of worship in the castle with its own bishop as dean, is a place steeped in history, tracing itself back to the 13th Century. It is filled with the graves of English monarchs, including the grave of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and their daughter Princess Margaret.
At the time, I wondered if the Queen of England, who was then over 80, stood at the grave of her parents and sister and remembered happier times. I wondered if there was a moment for saying a few words and for shedding a tear, I wondered if she was ever given space and peace and quiet?
I have never understood the relationship of the English with the Royal Family. On the one hand there are countless people who would declare themselves avid supporters of the monarchy. Ob the other hand, it is often those self same people who seize upon every piece of gossip and rumour carried by the vile tabloid press.
If people did not read such stories, if they did not buy the newspapers and magazines that carried nothing more than idle gossip, the press would very quickly cease to run them, yet the slightest story sparks flurries of excitement on the front pages and on the television and radio news.
I often wondered if the Queen ever had recourse to the press complaints body, or to the broadcasting standards authorities, over the stories that are distortions and the others that are simply lies?
It is confusing, if you respect someone, then you respect their right to privacy and their right to having their own inner life. You can’t claim to respect someone if you splash every poisonous piece of malign speculation all over the newspapers.
To have remained in office for seventy years must have demanded incredible powers of perseverance. If I had been in the Queen’s place, I would have called it a day a long time ago. I would have taken my family money and told the State that they could take what was theirs and I would have gone to live in Paris, where they at least have respect for style.
Seventy years, how did she do it?