Elizabeth II The Diamond Queen – A Life of Service to Others

Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom 1985 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ARS, NY and DACS, London 2009

British Royal commentator Andrew Marr followed the Queen of England for a year and a half prior to her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, examining the defining moments of the Queen’s reign, beginning with her accession to the throne in 1952. Over three episodes of ‘The Diamond Queen’ he talks with some former, as well as her current Prime Minister David Cameron and the President of the Unites States Barack Obama, who talks about her with great affection. For the first time Marr gains access to all of the Queen’s adult grandchildren, who also have their say about their grandmother. Collectively they all admire her, as we should, because she is a master of keeping the balance between honouring the traditions dating back to the medieval period that help to define Britain and its culture, while embracing the challenges associated with each new decade, family life, modern technology and rapid change.

In this landmark BBC documentary we discover that while the Queen of England may be viewed as an adornment to the past sixty years, what she hasn’t been is merely an ‘ornament’. Quiet achievers commit wholeheartedly to their goals and through dedication, diligence and persistence make an enormous difference to many lives. The Diamond Queen Elizabeth II (1926-) has certainly lived up to all these ideals. She has been a presence in the lives of the people in her Commonwealth of Nations for so long perhaps, Marr suggests, that we have all begun to take her for granted not realizing just how important her role has really been to us all. She’s not out there telling us what to do, but rather advising, guiding and being a splendid role model, displaying her own quiet dignity while helping others to achieve their full potential, which is after all what a good leader in any sphere is all about.

The Princess Elizabeth was not born to serve, however when her father George VI (1895 – 1952) took on the role of King following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII, everything for Elizabeth and her family changed. However she embraced her new role as heir presumptive to the English throne willingly, displaying a wisdom that was way beyond her years.. This happened when she was only 10 years of age a very formative time. She watched, observed, listened and talked with her father the King about affairs of state when she had access to him, acting quietly and wisely. This was the beginning of her role as the ‘quiet achiever’ one whose dedication, diligence, endurance and persistence make an enormous difference to the lives of others.

The first episode of this series reveals how Princess Elizabeth delivered a radio broadcast when she was just 14 years of age, showing an inner strength and ability to consider other children of her age so brilliantly. It is a truly beautiful speech, clearly and concisely delivered to the children of the Commonwealth at the height of the Battle of Britain. At that time so many of her peers had been evacuated from the cities to the countryside, or to British colonies far away from Britain. She was wanting to bring them both a sense of hope and the comfort of home.  Her sister Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002) was by her side and at the end she encouraged her to chime in and say goodnight too. Being the eldest daughter the Princess Elisabeth always took on a role of love, caring and responsibility towards her younger sister, one that lasted through times thick and thin and, for all of their lives.

Queen Elizabeth II reigns over one of the oldest and grandest monarchies in the world and 135 million + people around the world.  She is the ultimate top diplomat in our world today, and her perspective is respected, as is the effect that she has on British standing abroad in both trade and international relationships. This series is not meant to be an exploration of monarchy or a debate about its relevance today. This series is an affectionate look at one woman and what she has personally achieved in her lifetime of service to the greater good.

Reported to be known in TV circles as ‘One Take Windsor’ a reference to her professionalism, Elizabeth it seems is a technology savvy monarch. She does not only embrace change, but also leads it. When she realized that people resented the fact the monarchy did not pay taxes she offered to do so. She opened Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle so that people would have an opportunity to come and see it and The Royal Collection. She founded her own website for the collection, which has its own on line shop that is brilliantly designed and easy to use. She also put in place a new website for information about The British Monarchy that is clear and concise and constantly updated with all her official speeches and events.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh meet Irish President Mary McAleese

She has had some rough patches during her journey, which no doubt so many people around her would try to smooth the way for. However you quickly realize she would see right through someone who was not genuine.

Sincerity and honesty as well as truth are her hallmarks and controversy is something she has never shirked or shied away from, rather stepped up to be counted for.

Her visit to Ireland in May 2011 at considerable personal danger to herself was a huge step forward in beginning the healing process for the broken relationship that has existed for hundreds of years with Britain’s nearest neighbour.

Another example is the distress surrounding the untimely death of Lady Diana and how shocked the whole royal family was at the world-wide public reaction to it. Being amazingly in London at the time of the funeral, and the days leading up to it, she would have,  as indeed the people travelling on an arts and culture tour I was leading at the time, felt completely overwhelmed at the staggering public response in both London and the countryside.

Daily as we walked down to the palace we encountered people sobbing aloud, men and women both. We saw a tattered blanket wrapped in string by someone who was homeless left among the piles and piles of flowers stacked up against the railings of the palace.  On the day of the funeral when the service was happening you could hear a pin drop all over London as it came to a complete standstill.

Diana’s daily life and struggles in front of the people instead of alienating them had won their admiration and affection as she kept picking herself up and getting on with it. It made her seem so real and part of the same experience that everyone else has in life. The Royal family had failed to recognize that she was in direct touch with the people and they loved her for it. The Queen and her family had got it wrong.

As soon as she realized she didn’t hide out but reacted immediately, bringing her family back from holidays and requiring of them all that they stand united together with the nation in grief.

She delivered a televised speech on Sept. 5, 1997 about the death of Diana, extolling the late Princess as an “exceptional and gifted human being,. This was only the second time, aside from prerecorded yearly Christmas messages that the Queen had spoken to Britons live on television. It is noted in the program that this was also one speech she wrote herself and it came directly from the heart.

In many ways it was an admission of guilt on a grand scale but she took the hit herself and fairly and squarely on the chin in a year that was surely her second annus horribilis, the first being in the 40th year of her reign.

This was in 1992 when there was worldwide turmoil,  a number of her family members were all in crisis and, just prior to her anniversary, Windsor Castle had also caught fire. At a speech delivered at a lunch given by the Lord Mayor of London at Guildhall to mark that particular celebration she said

“There can be no doubt, of course, that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life. No institution – city, monarchy, whatever – should expect to be free from the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty and support, not to mention those who don’t.  But we are all part of the same fabric of our national society and that scrutiny, by one part of another, can be just as effective if it is made with a touch of gentleness, good humour and understanding”.

There is no doubt the Queen lives in a world of privilege. While we may be tempted to think she may be shielded from many of the world horrors the fact is that she is constantly kept up to date with events at home and abroad, and often ahead of us all. She is always reading the daily missives sent to her from the Prime Minister, Parliament and other officials throughout her Commonwealth of Nations. They keep her abreast of all decisions made and the resultant significant changes that may happen because of them. There is no icing on the cake, everything is delivered in its raw state for her to take on board and assimilate. This happens whether she is in London, at Balmoral or Sandringham or abroad.

Before meeting the Queen it seems that many people ask how they should behave. The simple answer is that there are no obligatory codes of behaviour – just courtesy.

On presentation to The Queen at formal occasions the style of address suggested is always ‘Your Majesty’ and thereafter ‘Ma’am’. More traditionally men would give a neck bow (from the head only) when they meet and women a small curtsy.

It is important to note that in reality these days this style of greeting is all about respect not subservience.

We can know where she is at any given time through the court circular, which is the official record of her engagements and details those ahead. These are published eight weeks in advance and available on line for all to see.

The media is also kept well informed so that they can know the policy about interviews and filming, she requires today that nothing is ever taken for granted.

She regularly throws open her palaces for garden parties to which a huge cross section of society is now invited. Likewise she supports the arts and emerging young artists and entertainers by holding special evenings at Buck House to encourage their endeavour and enterprise and embolden their careers.

At 86 years of age she defies them all, undertaking a rigorous schedule of engagements and meetings that would have many people half her age struggling to keep up with. She has been noted as saying she is an admirer of Queen Victoria, who was a believer in that old maxim “moderation in all things”‘.

Queen Elizabeth II, The Diamond Queen has over her lifetime set an example of just how it is possible to remain ‘effective and dynamic without losing those indefinable qualities, style and character’.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012

The Diamond Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms. The elder daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she was born in 1926 and became Queen at the age of 25. She has reigned through more than five decades of enormous social and cultural change and development.

The Queen is married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and has four children and eight grandchildren.

Watch the Queen’s Speech to Children when she was 14 Years of Age


Watch Tribute and Speech about the Death of Diana


Watch The Diamond Queen TV Series Trailer

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