Text: Karlin Heftigzer. This story previously appeared in Vorsten 5/6 2021 and has been adapted to current events.
On her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth made a radio promise to her people as she traveled through South Africa. “I declare to all of you that my whole life, whether long or short, will be devoted to your service and to our great family throughout the world (”Great Imperial Familyto which we all belong. It should be clear by now that it has become a long life span.
I took the promise of service seriously. She told radio listeners in the Commonwealth of Nations that she could do nothing but give herself completely. Elizabeth was a princess and her daughter and sister at the time. More roles will be added over the years, such as wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. But all these aspects have always served her most important role, that of the Queen. Patience, patience and determination. These are the three personality traits that, according to Prince Charles at the time, make his mother the unique queen she has been for more than seventy years. She was the oldest monarch in the world, and with each passing year the number of Britons who still knew her as princesses dwindled exponentially.
Elizabeth was always there and was incredibly predictable. This didn’t make her boring, but rather the stabilizing factor in an ever-changing world. Elizabeth was the familiar face during economic hardship, war, national grief, and national happiness. Her great strength was that she never had to pretend like she was: Elizabeth didn’t play a queen, she’s a queen. Was it different outside the palace walls? Probably not: Some friends and extended family say they don’t see much difference between Elizabeth’s home and outside. Elizabeth’s mission was to be present for all of her subjects. Expressing a clear preference for one could mean insulting the other. So showing off color is something she rarely does, not even with her best friends. Elizabeth never expressed her opinion directly, but she always hinted at her thoughts sideways and by asking the right questions. She has perfected her knack for good conversation – always keeping sensibilities in mind – over the years. The nervous interlocutors were always amazed at how calm they were.
Attentive and without whims
Elizabeth always gave enough for a pleasant conversation, but at the same time she kept the distance worthy of her stature. She was very attentive to the guests and family. For example, she sent Christmas gifts that she had come up with herself, made sure that dinner guests were not lacking in anything, and appreciated the paintings that the guest would like in his mansion bedroom. Elizabeth wasn’t expecting any mood swings, whims, or swings. The only time Elizabeth ever cried was when she had to say goodbye to her beloved royal yacht, Britannia, with which she made fond travel memories. Other times when she showed little spontaneity she was close to race horses. In the stables I felt free to let things go. Unconditional love for noble animals began when she was three years old. Horse riding was not only her great passion, but the breeding of racehorses was also important to her.
Queen Maxima’s reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth.
She tells Maxima how she wants to honor Elizabeth.
At the age of 95 she would still ride, always without a headscarf, if she was on a horse instead of a horse. Elizabeth was never out of character. her secret? This was not only the steadfastness with which she performed her work, but also the strict regularity of her life, which left nothing to chance and was planned in advance at least a year in advance. Every day of the week, she would get up around 7:30 a.m., take a shower, and have breakfast with cereal and toast with marmalade, only to hear the bagpipes heralding the start of her workday at 9 a.m. She began by reading personal messages from people from all walks of life, then opened the red bag she was receiving every morning. It contained pieces for you to read and draw, every day, wherever you are. Only during Christmas did she skip a day and also on her birthday, if she succeeded. In addition to the contents of those bags, I also read newspapers and magazines. She filled the rest of the day with masses, business meetings, or business visits. The Queen had not traveled abroad for several years, but for years, regular working days were supplemented by long trips around the world.
When Elizabeth was crowned Queen on June 2, 1953, she had been married to Prince Philip for less than six years and was the young mother of Prince Charles and Princess Anne, aged five and three years respectively. Throughout their young lives, they would know no better than that their mother was often far from home and had little time to interfere with their upbringing. Soon after her coronation, she and Philip set out on a five-month tour of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was the first of countless flights to destinations around the world.
Charles and Anne were taken under their wing by nannies, a common practice for well-to-do children at the time. But five months without their parents was a long time. It wouldn’t be the last time Elizabeth had to disappoint family or relatives. When her sister Margaret turned to her in hopes of gaining support for her marriage plans to her great lover Peter Townsend, Elizabeth was unable to grant her. After all, Townsend was a divorcee and this is difficult with the Anglican Church, of which Elizabeth was its head. Previously, she was unable to give her husband Philip what he wanted: that his children bear his surname Mountbatten (in those times when the surname is available). But all of Elizabeth’s relatives belong to House Windsor. However, some family members have used the name Mountbatten-Windsor since 1960, for example, to register their marriage.
God alone decides
Although Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were born when Elizabeth finished her early tropical years as queen, they also experienced – like Charles and Anne – that their mother was not much involved in family life. It was not a carelessness, she could not afford too much luxury in too much private time. It was a constant dilemma for her, the constant manipulation of the family and her duty. But: the people came first. For Elizabeth, being a queen was not a coat to take off and put on when it suits you. Or in this case: a crown you put on or take off. She was doomed to her life and she declared that she would dedicate her life to her sacred mission. So it wasn’t a question of whether she would quit at an advanced age – we can rightfully call her old. She remained queen until her death. God decided when her calling would end, no one else.
Elizabeth was ten years old when she and her sister Margaret heard that their Uncle Edward was hanging his crown from willows for love. He made their father the next king, which also profoundly changed Elizabeth’s life. “Does this mean you will be the next queen?” Margaret asked. Elizabeth replied, “Yes, one day.” Margaret concluded: “You poor man.” Elizabeth could count on her sister’s pity, but these kinds of feelings were out of the question for her. Admittedly, had she not become a queen, she would have lived a modest life in the English language country sideWith her dogs and horses. But Elizabeth realized early on that being queen was her destiny. “Once you accept your future, you can do it,” she once said to her cousin Margaret Rhodes. And in that life there was no room for self-pity, duty came before everything else.