A ruler like no other

Whether you are a republican or a staunch monarchist, one has to admire such a commitment to serve your country and the Commonwealth for 70 years with so much dignity and diligence as Queen Elizabeth II. Her reign has spanned several generations, and history has certainly been made during those post-WW2 years. We are unlikely to see the likes of her again. It is a sense of an end of an era that has probably run its course in the modern western world. This milestone event has prompted many to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee in the mother country of Britain.
My brother-in-law sent us bright and colourful images of a street party in Berkshire where bunting and sponge cakes were plentiful. Here in Australia, celebrations are much more muted on the other side of the globe. No four-day weekend here for the Queen’s subjects. However, we celebrate her birthday next weekend with a public holiday on Monday. It also coincides with the official snow season opening in the southern parts of Australia.
But our newly elected Labor Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has announced a new name for an island located in the middle of Lake Burley Griffin in our national capital Canberra, known as Queen Elizabeth II Island.
The Queen has always been there in the background of my childhood. I remember a picture of the Queen riding side-saddle resplendent in black and red attire that hung in my bedroom. Women’s magazines were always full of photos and stories of the goings-on of the Royals and ended up in scrapbooks. The Queen has managed 16 tours of duty to Australia during her reign, which is impressive.
My mother remembers being bussed from Orange to Bathurst in NSW as a school student to watch the Queen drive pass during a visit in the 1950s. The two of us used to tease my dear Nan in fun about her uncanny resemblance to the young Elizabeth.
I have never seen the Queen in real life. The closest my husband got was during her visit to Blackburn, Lancashire, in the 1960s when he was a little boy. He says the car drove up Penny Street, and she waved at him. But he thinks now she probably waved at everyone. His other brush with royalty was when the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret visited the British Aerospace manufacturing plant in the early 1980s near Blackburn, where he worked.
The only royals I have seen in the flesh were Princess Diana and Prince Charles during a visit to Australia, where they landed at the regional Albury Airport in NSW in 1983. My housemate and I stood in the rain and the mud to catch a glimpse of Diana. Diana was even more stunning in the flesh despite the beautiful photos I had collected for my scrapbook. Being of similar age, I had a lot of empathy for the young Princess pushed into the limelight of being a royal.
Prince Charles has a link to where I live now in the Victorian High Country near Mt Buller. I think the locals are still dining out on the fact that Charles was a student at the Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop Campus in 1966 for two terms. This same campus also hosted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a teaching assistant in 1983 as part of his gap year. But apparently, he was known as Alexander back then. Former Labor PM Tony Blair has been known to visit this part of the world because he has friends here.
It will only be a matter of time before Australia becomes a republic. In most respects, the country is left to govern itself with minimal interference from the crown. But there was the sacking of Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975 by Governor-General Sir John Kerr; now, that is a different story for another day.
In the meantime, best wishes to her majesty on her Platinum Jubilee. My photo above shows a piece of memorabilia found in a flea market off the High Street in Eaton, not far from Windsor Castle, several years ago, marking her coronation on June 2, 1953.

5 thoughts on “A ruler like no other

  1. I may not be a monarchist but I do admire this Queen. I think she has served tirelessly for those 70 years. I will miss her when she is gone and I very much doubt that Charles will be the same sort of a King as his mother was a Queen.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think many people share your views Anne. My Mum has suggested that given that many of the royals are in rich in their own right, we should sell off all the assets and direct it into health and relieving poverty. She also suggested using actors for the parades and other displays.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well I’m worried that Charles is not the sharpest crayon in the box and he will interfere with politics in a way the Queen never did. They already have Boris to deal with and Charles on top of that may be unbearable for a lot of Brits.

        Liked by 1 person

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