Today, as I mark 60 years as your Queen, I am writing to thank you for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and Prince Philip over these years and to tell you how deeply moved we have been to receive so many kind messages about the Diamond Jubilee
The history of the monarchy has always been about great change and the present Queen Elizabeth II has had a great deal to contend with since her accession to the throne in 1952. She is a constitutional monarch and by convention, is not involved in the day-to-day business of the government of England or any other commonwealth realm. However she continues to play both important ceremonial and symbolic roles. As Supreme Head of the Anglican Church and State in England she extends her hand of friendship and a warm welcome to people from all faiths, creeds and backgrounds wherever she travels. She supports public service through patronage and honours men and women who give service to their nation in world conflicts. She swore an oath at her coronation to ‘govern the peoples of her other realms according to their laws and customs’ as well as her own. Above all her continuing presence offers people a sense of stability in an often tumultuous world.
The Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) was officially photographed in February 2012 for the year of her Diamond Jubilee by John Swannell standing in the Centre Room from which The Queen and the Royal Family, during celebratory moments such as Coronation Day, Trooping the Colour and Royal Wedding days, have stepped onto the balcony for the past sixty years. In the background outside the window is the Victoria Memorial, which commemorates the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) the only Monarch, other than the present Queen, to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee (1897). At its pinnacle is a gilt-bronze figure of Victory, supported by courage and constancy, which this Queen of England and the Commonwealth has reflected on more than one occasion.
Celebrating landmark achievements for English Sovereigns such as birthdays and accession days dates back to the late eighteenth century, when the birthday of King George III was first marked with festivities. The Queen’s reign has not been without its controversial periods, but on the whole there would not be too many people in the western world who do not admire her commitment to the ideals of constitutional monarchy. The celebrations honouring her decades of her service to the people of the United Kingdom, and all of the territories under her goodwill, will no doubt go down in history as among the greatest in any era.
As Monarch of Australia she has toured ‘down under’ extensively throughout her reign, fufilling her constitutional role. Her 1954 royal tour, within two years of her accession to the English throne, was greeted with thunderous applause and breathless adoration. It was pre-television and this meant people queued for hours on the streets to catch a glimpse of her motorcade.
My own family camped out overnight on the curving corner of the footpath opposite David Jones department store in the appropriately named Elizabeth Street at Sydney as my father reasoned her car would have to ‘slow down’ to come around the corner and we would all have a better chance of seeing her easily, which we did. Like so many other Australian schoolchildren around the country I also stood for hours in the blazing sun of a huge arena so that we could all cheer and wave our flags for her. The landmark visit was described in a commemorative book as ‘a thunderous progress through thousands of miles lit to incandescence by the affection and enthusiasm of nine million devoted subjects’.
Painter Sir William Dargie eight time winner of the Archibald Prize for portraiture was invited to paint her portrait to commemorate the tour. He had built on his reputation as an accomplished war artist with the Australian forces during the Second World War. He depicted her wearing the lovely golden mimosa coloured tulle dress and stole embroidered all over with golden wattle sprigs designed by the royal dressmaker Norman Hartnell especially for the tour. It was inspired by Australia’s national floral emblem the golden wattle.
This ravishingly lovely plant from the Mimosaceae family Acacia pycnantha in Australia today is generically called ‘Wattle’. Depending on its variety trees flower profusely each winter and spring, ensuring that those driving through the countryside are heavily assaulted by its beauty and perfume.
While she was here on behalf of the nation she was presented with a wattle brooch made of white and yellow diamonds. The Queen’s Norman Hartnell golden tulle dress adorned with its sparkling wattle motifs became a celebrated Australian symbol in itself. Not only unambiguously patriotic, it was instantly recognizable as that worn by the Queen on her first evening engagement of the Royal Tour in Sydney, and again to her last evening function in Perth before leaving Australia.
Dargie spoke with great affection, and on behalf of the new generation, when he declared ‘I was never more impressed than when I saw her wearing her wattle gown. It was regal and it was Australian’.
As the head of state of countries from Australia to Antigua and from Canada to Cameroon her role is about fostering international co-operation and trade links between people all over the world. In that role she has proved to be an outstanding and much admired figure.
She is today a great force for unity in a troubled world, as well as a great source for continuity and wise advice. All around the world leaders respect her wisdom and counsel.
In November 2010 HRH Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh arrived for a visit at Abu Dhabi. It was her second state visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first taking place in 1979.
There the Queen was taken on a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is a place of learning and discovery through its education and visitor programs. She was accompanied by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan current President of the UAE.
The UAE is a federation of seven monarchies, whose rulers retain absolute power within their own emirates, but with a President over all. It is neither a constitutional monarchy or republic. Islam is its official religion and Arabic the official language.
The Queen’s visit was all about opening a new phase in the close relations of cooperation and bonds of friendship that now exist between the two countries and their peoples.
The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, Foreign Secretary William Hague MP and a number of senior British officials went along with her. They paid respect to the soul of Sheikh Zayed, who also sought to extend bridges of friendship and cooperation with all countries of the world and build a modern nation that focused on preparing enlightened citizens.
It was reported that the Queen ‘marveled at the beauty of the mosque’s architecture, Islamic designs and calligraphy.‘ As Supreme Governor of the Anglican Church (Church of England), Queen Elizabeth is considered the first leader of any other religion to officially visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
While her role as a monarch is in reality anti-democratic there are many who believe that by providing a sense of enduring unity the monarchy of Great Britain, at least since their powers were circumscribed, has worked extremely well. The people of the world need leaders that it can look up to and count on in troubled times and in that arena she has proven to be an outstanding figure and she is well respected for it.
Instead of having the supreme power nominally lodged in a monarchy, it was in the seventeenth century in England that a contrary doctrine to that of the so-called ‘divine right of Kings’ arose. Formulated by judges such as Sir Edward Coke it asserted that the King of England was the creation of the law of England, and subject to that law. This doctrine found adherents in Parliament. These had been spurred on by such anti-monarchical precedents as the nobles’ revolt, which led to King John signing the Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England, which was originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions.
For the English of the thirteenth century the signing of this document was a huge step in protecting people against unlawful imprisonment by ensuring such rights as trial by jury and freedom from unlawful arrest.
In the medieval period the Magna Carta did not in general limit the power of kings, but by the time of the English Civil War (1642 – 1651) this piece of parchment had become an important symbol for those who wished to show that the King was bound by the law. It influenced the early settlers in New England and inspired later constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.
The English Magna Carta is the ultimate talisman of liberty and freedom. Anglo-Irish statesmen, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher Edmund Burke wrote that it was ‘engraven on the hearts of Englishmen’. The famous clause 39 proclaimed: no free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers of by the law of the land.
This conflict ultimately came to a head in the English Civil War, which was won by the forces representing Parliament. The Parliamentary victory, was the death knell for the divine right of kings in England, and firmly established the principle of constitutional monarchy where the ultimate authority was invested in the English Parliament, not the monarch.
Those feet in ancient times, walking upon England’s mountains green found them to be littered with blood, sweat and tears since along the route western civilization has taken since the signing of Magna Carta. Today it symbolizes mankind’s eternal quest to be free and to respect those freedoms, sorely won.
When French writer, historian and philosopher Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694 – 1778) after a short spell in the Bastille for daring to challenge a nobleman, went to live in England from 1726 to 1729 he was astonished by their freedoms.
He found it amazing that Englishmen were able to virtually say and publish what they liked without fear of prison or exile; that there was no torture or arbitrary imprisonment; and that noblemen and priests were not exempt from certain taxes (it was the poor who enjoyed exemption from taxation in England whereas in France it was the rich).
On top of all that he found that different sects of religions were allowed to flourish. This was very different to France where King Louis IV in 1685 had revoked the famous Edict of Nantes, a document that granted religious toleration to Protestants in France.
In England the Toleration Act of 1689 had allowed Protestant non-conformists their own places of worship, teachers etc., subject to swearing certain oaths and declarations. At the court in London by the eighteenth century the King was not treated as someone divine but as a human being. With the accession of George I (1714 – 1727) to the throne constitutional monarchy became firmly established.
All of these experiences would be part of the wider expertise Voltaire gained and his works and ideas became the embodiment of the what became known as the ‘enlightenment’. Although Voltaire died some time before, he irrevocably laid the foundations for a French revolution in the minds of his peers.
He and they believed that human reason could be used to combat ignorance, superstition, and tyranny in order to build a better world.
The official photograph of the Queen with the man who romantically swore at her coronation to be her ‘liege man of life and limb’, her consort Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh, was also taken in the Centre Room at Buckingham Palace, although against the backdrop of its elegant fireplace surmounted by a great gilded mirror.
The Duke of Edinburgh celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2011 and has played a prominent part in many aspects of English national life. He has always stood firm and at her side.
She is wearing a white silk, satin and lace gown with silver coloured sequins made by Angela Kelly, who is her dresser and personal assistant. She is also wearing paste copies of diamond jewellery from her own collection and the British Crown Jewels. The real jewels will be part of a simply splendid exhibition of the Queen’s Diamonds at Buckingham Palace from June to October.
On the Queen’s head is the State Diadem, a circlet of diamonds created in 1820. It contains some 1333 diamonds with 169 pearls along its base. The design incorporates roses, thistles and shamrocks, symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland. She always wears this tiara to open Parliament and it features on English banknotes.
She is also wearing Queen Victoria’s Collet Necklace and Earrings, which she wore at her coronation in 1953. They been worn by five generations of Royal Ladies; Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) and the present Queen. Queen Victoria (The Queen’s great-great grandmother) also wore the necklace for her official Diamond Jubilee photograph (issued in 1897).
Pinned to her chest is the diamond encrusted Garter Star originally worn by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. On the blue Garter Ribband (or sash) the Queen is wearing the Royal Family Orders of her grandfather, King George V, and her father, King George VI.
He is wearing Royal Navy ceremonial day dress in his role as Admiral of the Fleet, complete with Garter Sash. His medals from left to right are
• Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand • 1939-1945 Star • Atlantic Star • Africa Star • Burma Star (with Pacific Rosette) • Italy Star • War Medal 1939-1945, with Mention in Dispatches • King George VI Coronation Medal, 1937 • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal, 1953 • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, 1977 ?• Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, 2002 ?• Canadian Forces Decoration (4 Bars) • New Zealand Commemoration Medal, 1990 • Malta George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal, 1992 • Greek War Cross, 1950 • Croix de Guerre (France) with Palm,1948
It is the 23rd image that they have made of her and the attention to detail is really quite astonishing. Her P.A. and dresser Angela Kelly advised the Tussauds team that made the replica of the Queen’s dress from the official photograph. Each hair on her head was added individually.
It took the Principal sculptor Steve Swales heading up a team of 20 people to complete the figure over a four-month period. He was even granted an audience with the Queen, which he believes helped to inspire his work.
The only thing that seems to be missing is her trademark handbag, which has become such a recognizable symbol of her style.
… in this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth. I hope also that this Jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations. I send my sincere good wishes to you all.
Congratulations Your Majesty, on your achievements in life and most importantly, on your Diamond Jubilee. You truly are The Diamond Queen
The Royal Timeline of Queen Elizabeth II
1926: Born in Mayfair, London 1945: Joins Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service 1947: Marries Prince Philip of Greece 1948: Prince Charles born 1950: Princess Anne born 1952: Succeeds to the throne of Great Britain and the Commonwealth 1953: Is crowned Queen at Westminster Abbey 1960: Prince Andrew born 1964: Prince Edward born 1977: Celebrates her Silver Jubilee 1997: Is criticized for her handling of the death of Diana Princess of Wales 2002: Celebrates her Golden Jubilee 2007: Celebrates her diamond wedding anniversary. Becomes the UK’s oldest serving monarch in history 2011: The Queen’s grandson Prince William marries Catherine Middleton and is given the title “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge” 2012: The Queen celebrates her own Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years of English monarchy.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012