Editorial: Queen’s reign a remarkable achievement
To take in the enormity and longevity of the Queen’s contribution to Britain, the Commonwealth and the world, it is instructive to reflect on some of the following.
As a young princess she gave her first public address in 1940, aged 14, sending a message to the children of the Commonwealth, particularly those who, like her, had been evacuated as German bombs rained down on London in World War II.
In 1947, with Britain still recovering from the war, she used collected ration coupons to buy material for a dress for her marriage to Philip Mountbatten, who became Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
On February 6, 1952, as she was visiting Kenya, Princess Elizabeth was told of her father’s death and her accession to the throne.
At the age of 25 she flew back to Britain as Queen.
In 1952, Australia’s population was just 8 million, Robert Menzies was prime minister and a man’s average weekly earnings was the equivalent of about $26.
The Queen was crowned on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey, aged just 27.
A four-day round of celebrations is now under way in Britain after the Queen became the first British monarch to commemorate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service — having ruled for longer than any other monarch in British history.
But it is not just the length of her reign that is remarkable.
The Queen has been that constant presence.
A figurehead for Britain and the Commonwealth. A comforting reassurance that all will be well in the end.
For most West Australians, the Queen is the only monarch they have ever known and a rock of stability as we have travelled through times of rapid and challenging social and political change — and, indeed, her own family has endured its own very public personal crises.
The journeys of the Queen’s children have been at times rocky, particularly the disastrous marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and there were dark days after Diana’s death.
More recently, the death of Prince Philip, the family tensions over Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, and the effective banishment in disgrace of Prince Andrew have presented new tests to navigate.
Always present in the background of the Australian relationship with the Queen is the question of whether the nation should become a republic.
Agitation in Australia for a republic fell away during the last decade, but the topic has arisen again with the election of a Labor Government.
But for the moment it is time to pause to pay tribute to, and celebrate the life and extraordinary reign of the Queen.
It was Prince William who, in a preface to a biography of his grandmother, in many ways summed up the essence of her incredible achievement. He noted that the role of charity, family, duty and compassion persevered.
“Time and again, quietly and modestly, the Queen has shown us all that we can confidently embrace the future without compromising the things that are important,” he wrote.
Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by WAN Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails