In 1969 I had a mini that was advertised as being able to turn on a sixpence. It was in need of a paint job, a Union Jack was mooted but never arrived and eventually you could inspect the engine through the rust holes. It had been a practice car, my parents having little faith in my ability not to have an accident, as my physical skills were not renowned, as I was puny. I loved it. It was little, like me, and easy to drive. Records were eight and six and a gallon of petrol was six and eight (about 32p, I think) When I was twenty one my birthday present was a Moggy 1000, which I did not appreciate. It was a sturdy vehicle, felt like driving a heavy tractor and turned, almost, in the space of a really wide road, ideally a dual carriageway (both lanes.)
But this was what I was getting. I relinquished my carefree mini and took on a tank, reliable, solid, steady. I was saddled with it for years and it was the last car that was mine alone, because we were into family cars fairly soon, until I got my pension and saved up for my current Volkswagen UP which I love.
In a programme recently the Queen remarked on fate. Fate has a lot to do with the Queen. Had fate not sent the appalling Wallis Simpson in to bat, we would never have enjoyed the spectacular innings of the current monarch.
The Queen was eleven when her father was crowned. Up until then she had been putting her wooden horses to bed, being a little girl, enjoying family life. Suddenly her carefree passage of life was removed. Her future featured only the lumbering carriage of state into which she was strapped for the ride with absolutely no way out.
At the time, it must have seemed that it would be a long time before she became Queen, Her father was young, just into his forties when he took on the job, when his brother abdicated, abandoning us for Wallis Simpson.
If, like me, you watched the BBC programme of the Queen’s home movies, perhaps you were struck by the youth of her father, playing games with her on the lawn, running around and looking fine.
As we know this didn’t last. He died so young. I had always just accepted this as a fact of history, but it wasn’t until I saw the home movies that I realised quite how young he was. I lost a favourite uncle at about the same age. At the time I was very shocked. In my twenties I hadn’t appreciated that people you loved could die so suddenly and so young. But I was lucky, I could go on being me. The weight of the world did not descend on my shoulders.
How lucky we have been! The Queen has always done the job that fate thrust upon her with grace, goodwill and fairness. She is forgiving, understanding and dedicated to duty.
In March this year the Queen got Covid. The television news reported that she was carrying on as usual. I was very worried. My next door neighbour, in her forties, strong and fit, had carried on working with Covid and had developed long Covid, she has been unwell now and frequently very ill for two years. My hairdresser was the same and cannot now stand up long enough to put all the perm curlers in my hair.
So I made a get well card, my best effort with watercolour peonies and hummingbirds and sent it to the Queen at Windsor castle with a message hoping she would not carry on regardless, telling her of my neighbour and hairdresser. I also told her I cared less about the Jubilee or her keeping an eye on whatever it is that parliament is getting up to than I do about her resting and getting thoroughly better.
I really meant it. Queen Elizabeth the Second is the only Queen Elizabeth the Second we will ever have. She is one of a kind, an endangered species. If you look back at history we have had some rum monarchs. We have had high-handed monarchs, murderous monarchs, warring monarchs, acquisitive monarchs, absent monarchs. What a lot! Even celebrated Queen Victoria went snuffy after Albert died and had to be coaxed back to doing reigning, very reluctantly.
But nothing phases our Queen, which is, really, why I wrote to her. We are living at an exceptionally lucky time in history because our record breaking Queen is our Queen.
Thanks to the English Civil War of the seventeenth century we have a wonderful system whereby we have politicians, who we can vote out out out but a monarch who we can use to represent us, apolitically. We are not stuck, like some other nations have been in history, with someone who has seized power and then gone power mad. In ever-changing times we have stability. The longer the Queen is on the throne the more she sees, the more experience of the world she has and the strange vagaries of some world leaders.
Yet she remains steadfast and is not swayed, diverted or turned on any sixpence.
We need to take care of the Queen. She is a senior and needs to pace herself, she is verging on being declared officially wonderful.
I am so glad the Queen rested and got better. I hope she continues to rest when she needs to so that we can have her as long as fate will grant us this boon.
God Save The Queen!