Queen Elizabeth II Sunday became the first-ever British monarch to celebrate a platinum jubilee. Aged 95, she spent the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne on her own and actively attending to official businesses.
A day before she had made an announcement that came as a surprise, but which settled one of the burdensome questions surrounding her succession: She supported Prince Charles' second wife becoming “Queen Consort” when he takes the throne.
The Queen made her announcement in writing during a reception at Sandringham House. She said it was is her sincere wish that Camilla can take up such a role.
“I was blessed that, in Prince Philip, I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it,” she wrote. “It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father’s reign,” she added.
Camilla married Prince Charles nine years after his divorce from Princess Diana. The Duchess of Cornwall, 74, has gained in popularity in recent years, but was widely disliked when her affair with the Prince of Wales, while he was married to the enormously popular Diana, was revealed. She never took the title Princess of Wales and said at the time of their marriage that she “intended” to serve as “Princess Consort” when Charles, 73, took the throne.
“I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection you continue to give me,” the Queen wrote. “And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when the time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
“The Queen is ensuring the transition, when it comes, to her son as king is as seamless and trouble-free as possible,’’ former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt was quoted by NBC News as saying.
Regarding the platinum jubilee, the Prince of Wales said in a statement that his mother's devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year.”
Others to congratulate the monarch were Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron, just three of the 14 to occupy No 10 during her reign, starting with Winston Churchill.
Johnson said: “I pay tribute to her many years of service and look forward to coming together as a country to celebrate her historic reign in the summer.”
May described the Queen as “an extraordinary woman, who has dedicated her life to the service of her people and our family of nations.”
Cameron said: “There can be no finer example of dignified public duty and service.”
Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer expressed his “deepest thanks” for 70 years of “unparalleled public service.”
“Her Majesty The Queen has been one vital and valued constant in an ever-changing world, representing security and stability for our country, during the ups and downs of the last seven decades,” Starmer added.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also praised the queen “for her dedication to us all, and her faithful witness to Jesus Christ.”
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was not born to wear the crown. But destiny intervened. As the elder daughter of King George V’s second son, Elizabeth, now 95, was expected to live the life of a minor royal when she was born on April 21, 1926. But things changed when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated so he could marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth’s father became King George VI, making the young princess heir apparent.
However, since Edward VIII outlived George VI with no issue, Elizabeth would have still become queen, albeit two decades later. But there would have been no King George VI, who endeared himself to the nation when he refused to leave London as bombs fell during the early months of World War II. Elizabeth followed her father in leading by example, joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service in early 1945, becoming the first female member of the royal family to join the armed services as a full-time active member.
On her 21st birthday, she dedicated her life to the nation and the Commonwealth, the voluntary association of states that grew out of the British Empire. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong,” she said in a radio address broadcast around the world.
In 1952, the young princess had embarked on a tour of the Commonwealth in place of her ailing father and was at a remote Kenyan lodge when she and Prince Philip heard the King had died. She immediately flew back to London.
The Queen recently stripped her second son, Prince Andrew, of his honorary military titles, as he fights a lawsuit in a New York court on accusations that he sexually abused a teenage girl while a guest of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. Her grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, remain estranged from the family. The queen has yet to meet her granddaughter Lilibet, named in honor of Elizabeth, whose parents called her by that nickname.
According to a poll last year by the market research firm YouGov, Queen Elizabeth II is the highest rated among royals, with an approval rate of 76 per cent.
Palace officials are expected to announce a number of public outings for the Queen in the coming days, including a raft of ‘hardy annuals’ such as the annual Commonwealth Day Service in March, signaling her slow return back to work.
The Queen is now expected to play a large part in engagements around her four-day Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June.
In a message released to mark her Platinum Jubilee the Queen said: 'It is a day that, even after 70 years, I still remember as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign. As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service, the Queen wrote and signed Your Servant - Elizabeth R.