OPINION: Your Majesty,
You're coming to the end of a big weekend as I write this. I'm not sure what's still on your schedule, but I am sure of one thing: though you must be feeling the effects of a dizzying whirl of commemorations, you will rise to whatever occasions remain.
After all, Ma'am, that's what you have done for 60 years now, and have continued to do this weekend. Because it's all about the people, and your duty to them. Why else would you have stood in worsening wind and rain for the entire trip down the Thames as part of that amazing flotilla on Sunday?
Most of us would have popped inside out of the downpour. But then who else has ever had 1.2 million people turn up just to catch a glimpse of them? You knew all those people were there braving the elements, just to see you. Some had slept in tents nearby to be sure of grabbing a prime vantage point. There was simply nowhere you could have been but on the deck of the royal barge.
It's a sense of duty I feel sure you learned from your parents. We all know films take liberties with historical facts however, there is surely much truth in the portrayal of your father's courage, and sense of duty, when faced with the terrifying prospect of assuming the throne, in The King's Speech. He was clearly daunted, but pressed ahead regardless.
As with your father, it seems never to have impacted on your determination to do your duty, that in a sense became yours by default as a result of your uncle's abdication.
In recent years you have been the subject of much debate, Ma'am, on several fronts. Among them has been the question of whether you would abdicate in favour of your eldest son, the Prince of Wales. Some have taken your failure to do that as a sign of disapproval of his personal conduct. But I suspect you also believe being Monarch is a duty you have inherited for life.
The existence of the Monarchy has also been vigorously debated and continues to be, even as these celebrations unfold. Some feel it is an anachronism. And the point is probably well made that the vast sums spent on events like those this weekend could have been used for more pressing needs. Yet every significant royal event continues to draw hundreds of thousands of people, many from all corners of the globe, which must be a major boost to Britain's economy. I wonder what other events – the coming Olympics are something of a one-off – could draw people to that part of the world as consistently?
It's been suggested that the Royal Family is a brand, the most powerful brand in Britain, with you as its brand leader. Those who would do away with it might want to look carefully at what else the country has to keep tourists flocking in.
But these are concerns for a different time. Right now, you surely deserve to enjoy these celebrations.
Congratulations, Ma'am, on your Diamond Jubilee.
- © Fairfax NZ News