At the Helm for 70 Years

The then Princess Elizabeth at the tiller of the dingy Dutchess as a member of the Sea Ranger Association in 1944. The boat is still regularly rowed by the Sea Rangers based near Cookham Lock, Berkshire. The SRA is a charity “providing girls and young women the opportunity to experience a variety of activities, principally water-based.”

2 June 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch on the woman who plays the role of Queen even better than Helen Mirren.

On 6 February 2022, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British Monarch to celebrate a 70-year reign. In the UK, the Platinum Jubilee four-day holiday is to run from Thursday, 2 June to Sunday, 5 June in line with the Queen’s Coronation on 2 June 1953.

Princess Elizabeth at Henley in 1947.

While it is difficult to put a logical argument for the anachronism that is royalty, a recent YouGov survey found that the Queen was “liked” by 75% of the 1363 British adults interviewed (13% were “neutral” and 9% “disliked” their monarch). As well as the UK, Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada, Australia and New Zealand and also of eleven Caribbean countries that have become independent since her accession.

Princess Elizabeth at the Head of the River Race in 1952. Picture: Thames RC Archive.

While there is republican sentiment in all fourteen of the Queen’s commonwealth realms and while many are led by anti-monarchists, only Barbados has recently replaced the Queen as Head of State (though it looks as though Jamaica will soon follow). A recent tour of the Caribbean by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge highlighted anti-royal sentiment in the region.

The Queen (pictured with Peter Coni) opening the new Henley Royal Regatta Headquarters in 1986.

What are euphemistically called “the Old Commonwealth” countries of Australia, Canada and New Zealand may be the last to sever royal links. Australia held a referendum on the matter in 1999 but 55% voted against change (a result possibly distorted by divisions in the republican ranks).

The Queen and Prince Philip visit Watermen’s Hall in 2014. Picture: seanvalentineblog.

Keen to take the opportunity to make their next head of state a native of their own country, some republican movements may step up their campaigning when the 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth breathes her last. However, they should remember that the Monarch cannot die: “The King is Dead. Long Live the King!”

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