Beyond Imagination, Possibly
Queen Elizabeth (Alexandra Mary) II (April 21, 1926 – September 8, 2022) was quite young at that period of time. It was not in the remotest imagination that she would become the Queen of Great Britain. Edward VIII, the elder brother of her father Albert Frederick Arthur George (popularly known as King George VI), was the claimant to the royal throne. Prince Albert was leading a carefree Royal Life with his wife, and two daughters. Sister Margaret overshadowed the calm and quiet Elizabeth, as the former was more beautiful and attractive.
However, the soft-spoken Elizabeth moulded herself into the ideal alpha-female. She had two things with her: the gene of authority and luck. Incidentally, Edward VIII ascended the throne as Edward VIII after their father passed away in 1936. However, Edward abdicated later that year to marry the twice-divorced US socialite Wallis Simpson. Hence, Albert became the third Monarch of the House of Windsor, taking the regnal name George VI. With her father on the throne, Elizabeth II emerged as the future Queen of Great Britain.
In the Post-World War I World, Monarchy, seemingly, became irrelevant. From that situation, Queen Elizabeth II successfully managed to keep the Monarchy relevant at least till the first two decades of the 21st Century. This may be her greatest achievement, apart from acknowledging her reign as the longest (70 years), since 1953. It was due to her natural leadership quality and razor-sharp wit, which helped her come out of the shadow of strong political or charming personalities, like Sir Winston Churchill, Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Princess Diana et al, time and again.
As a Princess, she had witnessed the Second World War and the end of British Colonial Rule in the Indian Sub-continent. As the Queen, she had seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, collapse of the Soviet Union, Brexit, and many other events that had a profound impact on the socio-political arena, and the world economy. Even, quite a few scandals rocked the British Royal Family during her tenure as the Monarch. Still, Queen Elizabeth II remained as Pole Star at Buckingham Palace.
It has been repeatedly stated that the British Parliament is the main power of the Monarchy, as the Queen’s power was limited to a few minutes of discussion with the Prime Minister. Furthermore, she did not have any opportunity to speak during those meetings. Also, she had quite a number of advisers. Despite all these, no one can deny the fact that she played an essential role in everything. During her 70-year regime, she visited 129 countries 300 times, and delivered more than 1,000 speeches. She used to give a lot of stress on Public Relations. One should not forget that Queen Elizabeth II was the first British Monarch to arrange for people to watch her coronation live on television, ignoring the advice of Sir Winston Churchill. She further allowed the life of the Royal Family to be shown on television, allowed common people to enter the Buckingham Palace, and created a website of the Palace.
She rightly realised the public sentiment; else it would not be possible for her to tackle the situation after the tragic death of Princess Diana on August 31, 1997. After the death of Princess Diana, the Queen stressed: “She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness. I admired and respected her – for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys.“
Queen Elizabeth II used to say: “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Her sense of humour, carefree attitude and colourful attires made her popular. Her visit to a mosque at the age of 75 showed that she was not as orthodox as people used to think. It was during her regime when the cultural diversity of Britain was most evident. Hence, the Queen had a charming personality in a real sense, although people used to discuss more about other members of the Royal Family. In fact, she even triggered an uproar in Britain by admitting that the prosperity of the Royal Family was due to tax-payers’ money.
Right after ascending the throne, Elizabeth II had reportedly asked her mother whether she was worthy of it. She had admitted to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon that she was an introvert, while people around her had analytical skills. Her mother replied: “You are introvert because your political consciousness has been developed in the right way, since childhood.” It is heard that her mother also told Queen Elizabeth II that “often, silence is the best political move“.
Apart from maintaining silence, the Queen had the ability to change herself in accordance with the situation. So, she upheld the dignity of the Royal Crown even in the 21st Century. The Queen adroitly handled all sorts of storms and changes. Perhaps, she couldn’t bear the pain of Prince Philip‘s departure from this world (on April 9, 2021). Prince Philip had been her love since the age of 13. Some are of the opinion that the Queen knew how to hide her emotions behind a smile. Maybe, the Head of 52 Commonwealth Nations was sad about her own life, marriage, and also about scandals related to her eldest son, Charles III. It may also be that she could put her pain aside to become the Mother of Great Britain in a true sense.
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