Friday, February 5, 2010

58 years

Tomorrow, February 6, marks the fifty-eighth anniversary of the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. On that date in 1952, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh was on a royal visit to Kenya with the Duke of Edinburgh when the shocking news broke through that her father, King George VI, had unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. The king had been suffering from lung cancer and had undergone a series of operations in previous years, but doctors reported that his condition had actually improved in recent weeks.

Since 1952, Britain (and the rest of the world) has undergone enormous social and political change, with the Queen truly representing the end of a bygone generation- a generation who lived during the second World War, before television, Internet or iPhones, before technology vastly changed our lives and the way we communicate and interact with one another. Through it all, even the most ardent critics of monarchy cannot argue Elizabeth II's unwavering devotion to duty and service. She represents the admirable virtues of her generation- prudence, diligence, a desire for simplicity. Some would also argue that she embodies the less-admirable qualities of those from her time- stiff upper lip, cold, detached. But in 58 years one can legitimately argue that there was perhaps just one occasion where she might have slipped up- the royal family's handling of the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales. But just one misstep in 696 months of reigning is something worth commending.

Here's to you, Ma'am. Here's to another two years until your Diamond Jubilee.

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