Well, this has been quite an eventful week and one that certainly demonstrates the decision-making benefits to be gained on a walking holiday in Snowdonia! The Welsh mountain air clearly does wonders for solving a dilemma. Here at Evergreen, though, we’re steering clear of the political hullabaloo of the past few days to focus specifically on today, Friday 21st April, which is a particularly noteworthy date because it is Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday.
It seems incredible to think that a year has passed since we saw the start of the glorious celebrations that marked The Queen’s 90th birthday. These unfurled throughout the summer into a series of joyful, heart-warming displays of respect, affection and admiration - from Britain, the Commonwealth and the rest of the world - towards our longest-reigning monarch. The cheering, flag-waving crowds that lined The Mall and turned out to celebrate in communities across the country – and far beyond these shores – epitomised the monarch’s role as a figurehead and one who unites and guides us, whatever our age and whatever our background.
The Queen has devoted herself to the service of the nation since making her pledge as a young 21-year-old princess, and 6th February this year marked the Sapphire Jubilee (65th anniversary) of her accession to the throne. She has, with dedication, wisdom, tenacity and faith, together with the support of her family, especially her husband The Duke of Edinburgh, served her people and her nation faultlessly and selflessly.
During last year’s birthday celebrations the Queen was joined by future generations of the Royal Family, and seeing her with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren reminded us of her other role - as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. The same degree of care and devotion to duty extends to her family life too. And family life will be at the forefront of celebrations later this year, on 20th November, when The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh – the man she famously referred to as “My strength and stay” - reach their 70th wedding anniversary (Platinum). It is another tremendous milestone in The Queen’s record-breaking reign and, most significantly, the royal couple’s life together, highlighting their devotion to each other, their family and their official duties. Combining all this - under the unforgiving glare and ceaseless scrutiny of the world’s media - is a task that few would, if truth be told, choose to undertake. Indeed, when Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, on this day in 1926, no one could have predicted how life would alter so greatly for the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York.
It was only a decade later, following the abdication crisis, that Princess Elizabeth’s destiny changed forever, when her father was proclaimed King George VI. His eldest daughter was just 10 years old. It is difficult to comprehend the impact on the young princess, her sister, Margaret Rose, and her mother – to say nothing of her father who had been thrust unwillingly into the spotlight, at a time of such worldwide political uncertainty. But if you look at the early black-and-white pictures and film footage of the young Elizabeth, you detect a quiet sense of purpose; a considerate, respectful and mindful character who, even at that tender age, seemed imbued with a wisdom well beyond her years.
It has served her well and even now, as she reaches the age of 91, Her Majesty continues to undertake a demanding round of official duties and engagements - 332 in the UK last year - with an astonishing energy and spirit that puts many of her younger subjects to shame. She is a marvellous inspiration to us all, and I am sure that Evergreen and This England readers across the world will join me in wishing Her Majesty a very Happy Birthday.
God Save The Queen.