The Queen 70 Years On: “A Sparkling Presence at its Summit”

The Queen 70 Years On: “A Sparkling Presence at its Summit”

Post­ed in 2012 on the 60th Anniver­sary of Her Majesty’s acces­sion, reprised 2022 on the 70th, in hum­ble recog­ni­tion of all The Queen has meant to her subjects—and admir­ers not her subjects—for so many years.

“A Day’s March Nearer Home”

Queen Eliz­a­beth II acced­ed to the throne on 6 Feb­ru­ary 1952. Address­ing Par­lia­ment on the 11th, Churchill named her “heir to all our tra­di­tions and glo­ries nev­er greater than in her father’s days, and to all our per­plex­i­ties and dan­gers nev­er greater in peace­time than now. She is also heir to all our unit­ed strength and loyalty.”

Pri­vate­ly, a week lat­er, he stared fixed­ly at a new pho­to­graph of the Sov­er­eign. “She was in white,” wrote Lord Moran, “with long white gloves, smil­ing and radi­ant.” It was his favorite pho­to of Her Majesty. “Love­ly,” he remarked, “she’s a pet. I fear they may ask her to do too much. She’s doing so well.” They asked her to do more. She did even better.

A week on he was still gaz­ing at that famous pho­to: “Love­ly, inspir­ing. All the film peo­ple in the world, if they had scoured the globe, could not have found any­one so suit­ed to the part.” Then, Moran remem­bered, WSC began singing a hymn: “Yet night­ly pitch my mov­ing tent a day’s march near­er home.” (WSC had recit­ed the same words to the Eighth Army at Tripoli, ten years ear­li­er.) —From Churchill by Him­self, 368.

“Of infinite value, at once numinous and luminous…”

Pro­fes­sor David Dilks is the for­mer Vice-Chan­cel­lor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hull. He is the author of The Great Domin­ion: Win­ston Churchill in Cana­da 1900-1954 (2005), and biog­ra­ph­er of Neville Cham­ber­lain.  On 6 Feb­ru­ary 2007, the 55th Anniver­sary of her reign, he addressed these incan­des­cent words to the Roy­al Soci­ety of St. George:

We may think of Churchill as an ami­able or even rev­er­ent agnos­tic, who con­ceived of him­self not as a pil­lar of the church but per­haps as a fly­ing but­tress. He did not invoke the Deity casu­al­ly or cyn­i­cal­ly, a fact which con­fers its own inter­est upon his touch­ing and heart­felt reply to the Queen’s let­ter fol­low­ing his retire­ment as prime min­is­ter in April 1955.

The monar­chy sig­ni­fied for Churchill some­thing of infi­nite val­ue, at once numi­nous and lumi­nous; and if you will allow the remark in paren­the­sis, ladies and gen­tle­men, do you not some­times long for some­one at the sum­mit of our pub­lic life who can think and write at this level?…..

WSC to The Queen, 18 April 1955

Our Island no longer holds the same author­i­ty or pow­er that it did in the days of Queen Vic­to­ria. A vast world tow­ers up around it and after all our vic­to­ries we could not claim the rank we hold were it not for the respect for our char­ac­ter and good sense and the gen­er­al admi­ra­tion not untinged by envy for our insti­tu­tions and way of life. All this has already grown stronger and more solid­ly found­ed dur­ing the open­ing years of the present Reign, and I regard it as the most direct mark of God’s favour we have ever received in my long life that the whole struc­ture of our new-formed Com­mon­wealth has been linked and illu­mi­nat­ed by a sparkling pres­ence at its summit.

It is an inspi­ra­tion to all who love or respect her that the sparkling pres­ence is still there.

Best video about HM

For­mer pro­tec­tion offi­cer Richard Grif­fin on an encounter with HM by Amer­i­can tourists near Balmoral.

Further reading

What Good’s a Monar­chy? To Sep­a­rate Pomp from Pow­er,” 2021

Absent Friends, H. Ash­ley Red­burn, 1914-1996: ‘Eng­land Hath Need of Thee,’” 2020

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