A Masterclass In Feminine Power: The Alchemy That Makes The Queen One Of Our Greatest Monarchs-Humanity, Modesty And Pragmatism

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A Masterclass In Feminine Power: The Alchemy That Makes The Queen One Of Our Greatest Monarchs-Humanity, Modesty And Pragmatism

In 1952, it was a time for mourning a beloved father. We can only guess
the weight of the emotional burden that unexpectedly befell the young Princess
Elizabeth when the King died on February 6 that year.

While it was a day to celebrate the start of a new reign, we should
never forget that, for the Queen, it is also a day of pain and bereavement.

Seventy years later, it marks the start of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and is a time for
looking back with gratitude for a reign that’s still going strong, and for 70
years of memories — our own and those we have inherited. We shouldn’t hold
back: monarchy either lives in the hearts and experiences of ordinary British
people, or it doesn’t really live at all.

My first glimpse of the Queen was through a rainy limousine window in a
wintry Scottish town, where our school was gamely trying to line a street with
loyal, smiling faces. It was two thrills in one: we got to see the Queen and we
skipped double math.

Later I overheard the headmaster excitedly reliving the experience for
the benefit of the staff-room: ‘…and when she looked at me it was as if she
was saying, “How lovely to see you here!”’

A Masterclass In Feminine Power: The Alchemy That Makes The Queen One Of Our Greatest Monarchs-Humanity, Modesty And Pragmatism

Even at the tender age of nine, it occurred to me that if the Queen
really had been glad to see him, she must indeed be a person of extraordinary
grace and stamina.

I had already learned an important lesson about Her Majesty: just a
fleeting sense of her presence could do wonders for morale. Our notoriously
savage headmaster was a ray of sunshine for several hours following his close
encounter with the sovereign — proving that you should never discount the soft
power of royalty.

As the headmaster, my parents served in the Armed Forces of the
Queen’s father during World War II. Fighting for King and country was not the
abstract idea it might seem today. It was a real thing.

Years later, I absorbed this history as part of my growing up. To my
impressionable mind, it somehow made the Queen an honorary member of our
family. After all, she was about the same age as my mum and they had both been
in the Army. And, conclusively, they even had the same hairstyle.

Had she lived to see it, my mother would have been especially proud
when, 23 years later, I was appointed equerry to the Queen’s glamorous
daughter-in-law and future Queen-consort, Princess Diana.

The monarchy had moved on a bit by then, and not entirely for the
better: we were on the brink of the traumatic years of family upheaval that
culminated in the notorious annus horribilis of 1992.

The Windsors were now just more celebrity gossip and diary fodder in
mass-circulation newspapers. It marked a dangerous fall in public respect. Even
as I arrived at the palace, I knew from rumours that Charles and Diana’s
marriage might not be the real-life fairytale we had all been sold.

It wasn’t long before I had a chance to update my childhood impressions
of the Queen — and get valuable insight into my new boss. There was a diary
planning meeting, a set-piece event during which the prince and princess and
their staffs went through the tortuous process of deciding the Waleses’
official engagements for the next half-year.

There could be some tense moments, like when the prince was asked to
take on a non-negotiable invitation he would much rather decline. Cue much
respectful persuasion from his private secretary to no avail.

It was Diana, now growing restless with the delay, who broke the
stalemate. ‘Why don’t you ask your mother to do it?’ she asked.

There was a collective gasp at this unprecedented break with convention.
Then she shocked the assembled bureaucrat courtiers even more. ‘You could phone
her,’ continued Diana. ‘Use the phone on your desk.’

A Masterclass In Feminine Power: The Alchemy That Makes The Queen One Of Our Greatest Monarchs-Humanity, Modesty And Pragmatism

This was revolutionary. Communication of this kind should be through
established channels with lots of leisurely paperwork. Yet, after only a slight
pause, the prince rose from his seat, crossed to his desk and lifted the phone.
In minutes, he was speaking to the Queen, and in a minute more she had agreed
to do the engagement in his place.

As the prince returned to his seat, his wife flashed everybody a Diana
look that said: ‘See! It takes a woman to get things done around here!’

No, I thought to myself. Make that two women.

That small incident was typical of many stories in palace folklore.
Take, for example, the moment when the Queen turned what could have been a
diplomatic fiasco into a breakthrough for the birth of the new South Africa.

It was 1991, and the heads of government meeting of the Queen’s beloved
Commonwealth was being held in Harare, Zimbabwe. Guests arrived in a succession
of limousines and joined the Queen for a pre-dinner reception.

But then the unthinkable happened: an uninvited guest rolled up to the
door of State House. Out of the black Mercedes stepped the leader of the
African National Congress, the recently released prisoner of Robben Island,
Nelson Mandela himself.

With the world’s Press watching, any suggestion of surprise or
hesitation might have been mistaken for a snub. It could have been a disaster.

But the Queen didn’t miss a beat, welcoming her extra guest as her
officials swiftly reorganized the dinner seating plan.

Pragmatism matched with courtesy and more than a touch of cool. As I
learned, these are among the Queen’s defining qualities.

I saw more of her practical approach when I accompanied Prince Charles
to the Remembrance Day service in Hong Kong when it was still a British Crown
Colony. Since I would be handing the prince his wreath to lay on the Cenotaph,
I took a close interest in an animated discussion between protocol officials.

The Hong Kong team expected the Governor, as the Queen’s representative,
to lay the first wreath; but we visitors maintained that, since the Queen’s
heir was present, he should take precedence.

Protocol disagreements can be tense. The debate swung back and forth for
what seemed a very long time. Finally, somebody had the bright idea of
contacting the Queen personally to get her ruling on the matter. The decision
came straight back: The Governor goes first.

The point to note is that the Queen’s unstuffy approach to problems —
and life in general — is the opposite of how monarchs are assumed to think. In
some palace offices, there is a temptation to over-complicate simple issues. By
contrast, the Queen’s priorities are refreshingly clear: recognize what is
required and then get on with it, without the need for coaxing, histrionics or
fuss.

Add to this philosophy an eye that famously misses no detail and a
legendary palace intelligence network, and you have the keys to an
extraordinarily effective monarchy. Its effectiveness carried so lightly
that it might be missed altogether amid today’s taste for overwrought
communications. But underestimate it at your peril.

A Masterclass In Feminine Power: The Alchemy That Makes The Queen One Of Our Greatest Monarchs-Humanity, Modesty And Pragmatism

Although Elizabeth will one day leave us, the Windsors will not. They are our continuing inheritance. How does that feel?

Now imagine the monarchy without her. The more you think about it, the
more disturbing it feels. Like a betrayal. Yet it’s an inevitability that only
grows closer. She is irreplaceable but her successors are already lined up,
three generations ahead.

Although Elizabeth will one day leave us, the Windsors will not. They
are our continuing inheritance. How does that feel?

Reassuring, I suppose, but with certain distinct misgivings. The Queen’s
reign continues to be a masterclass in feminine power — sometimes subtle,
sometimes displayed for effect.

Having ascended the throne as a brave and vulnerable young princess,
it’s likely she will be followed by a succession of elderly men.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. Age and wisdom go together (usually)
so maybe it’s time for some old, wise kings.

Like it or not, though, we live in an image-conscious age. The Windsors
themselves obviously recognize this — just look at the way the royal PR budget
has soared over recent years. They may claim not to care about popularity, but
they do need broad support from all generations.

Especially from the young, who will be subsidizing the monarchy for the
rest of their lives. To that generation, a monarch near their own age,
preferably with a photogenic family and dependable private life, would be
someone to invest in for the long haul.

Luckily for Buckingham Palace, the Cambridges have proved they have the
charisma of William’s mother, the public service ethos of his grandmother and
the common sense that is just the kind of wisdom the Windsors need. This only
reminds us that Prince Andrew has been banished and Prince Harry has
self-exiled.

A Masterclass In Feminine Power: The Alchemy That Makes The Queen One Of Our Greatest Monarchs-Humanity, Modesty And Pragmatism

Churchill described the British system as ‘a crowned republic’: ‘In our island, by trial and error, and by perseverance across the centuries, we have found a very good plan

But this still leaves us with a future king whose charity, The Prince’s
Foundation, is under investigation and a future queen-consort indelibly
implicated in the tragedy of Princess Diana. The failings and frailties of the
Queen’s family only make her example shine brighter. The Platinum Jubilee lets
us celebrate that example. It also lets us ask why we have a queen in the first
place. Why not a president?

The answer doesn’t need a long lecture on the theory and practice of
constitutional monarchy. We only need to point to a picture of the Queen. This
is the British state in human form, the living, breathing focus and pathway for the official patriotic sentiment. Hence God Save the Queen, not God Bless Britain.

Churchill described the British system as ‘a crowned republic’: ‘In our
island, by trial and error, and by perseverance across the centuries, we have
found a very good plan. Here it is. The Queen can do no wrong but advisers can
be changed as often as the people like to use their right for that purpose.’

The Queen can do no wrong. That’s a reassuring default position but, of
course, our Queen has improved on it immeasurably over a lifetime of service.
Her achievements outstrip the efforts of the most industrious historians.

Consistently they perceive in the Queen a set of qualities that
reassuringly confirm humanity to which we can feel connected, and a
willingness to sacrifice which earns our loyalty.

Adjectives such as humorous, pragmatic, modest, straightforward and
unstuffy aren’t awarded lightly; they are earned through years of dedicated
service, the bedrock of a reputation few elected leaders could match.

The pattern for her successors could not be clearer. Whatever storms may
blow, whatever passions may rage, whatever shocks rock the foundations of
Britain — a confident, hard-working monarchy sends a reassuring message of calm
and continuity.

By acting only on the advice of elected ministers — and resisting the
temptation to pursue the mirage of fashionable relevance — it preserves its
unifying legitimacy. And by honouring excellence, service and duty, encourages the rest of us to do more and better with what we have.

By all these measures, the Queen has set an example that may never be equaled,
only followed by future generations as best they can. As we have seen, from the
tragically early death of her father to the annus horribilis and beyond, she
has — metaphorically and literally — squared her shoulders, set her jaw and
uncomplainingly met every test fate has sent her.

Perhaps that steadfastness can be traced to an unworldly strength the
Queen has never made a secret. She made it especially plain when aged just 21,
she famously committed her life to the service of her people.

‘God help me to make good my vow.’

Who could doubt that her prayer has been answered in full measure? Now
is a time for prayers of thanks for her lifetime of service. Let’s pray, too,
that if there must be another Accession Day, it keeps us waiting many years
yet.

 

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Mr Priceless
A young person with a passion for success and excellence to develop a professional career that encourages empowerment in the overall development of a person which is achieved through hard work. A Journalist with facts and a difference; standing by the truth all the time with interests in Science & Technology, Health, Celebrities' Lifestyle, Crimes, Education and Career Improvement.

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