Over the last few days Britain has seen quite a bit of it as they celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. That is, 60 years as sovereign.
At the time of her birth, Princess Elizabeth stood third in line of succession to the throne after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), and her father, The Duke of York. But it was not expected that her father would become King, or that she would become Queen.
In today's line of succession to the throne, this would be similar to Prince Harry of Wales and/or his future heir becoming sovereign should the Duke of Cambridge (William) ever abdicate the throne (assuming he and the Duchess of Cambridge Katherine do not have children). Next in the current line of succession is Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, who is the Prince of Wales' brother (Number 4 in line) ... followed by Princess Beatrice of York (Number 5 in line) and Princess Eugenie of York (Number 6 in line).
But, enough about the others... let's get back to Her Majesty.
The Princess was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace. She was named after her mother, while her two middle names are those of her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.
In 1930, Princess Elizabeth gained a sister, with the birth of Princess Margaret Rose. The family of four was very close and led a relatively quiet life ... that is, until 1936 when her grandfather, King George V, died.
His eldest son came to the throne as King Edward VIII, but, before the end of the year, King Edward had famously decided to give up the throne in order to marry the woman he loved, Mrs Wallis Simpson (who, in addition to being a divorcee was also AMERICAN). In his abdication speech on December 11, 1936, Kind Edward put it this way:
But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.What drama...
Upon his abdication, Princess Elizabeth's father acceded to the throne as King George VI, and in 1937 the two Princesses attended their parents' coronation in Westminster Abbey.
Princess Elizabeth was now first in line to the throne, and a figure of even more intense public interest.
George VI's health declined during 1951, and Princess Elizabeth was soon frequently standing in for him at public events. In October of that year, she toured Canada, and visited President Truman in Washington, D.C. While on that trip, her private secretary, Martin Charteris, carried a draft accession declaration for use if the King died while she was away.
In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand by way of Kenya. On February 6, 1952, they had just returned to their Kenyan home after a night spent at Treetops Hotel, when word came of the death of Elizabeth's father. Philip broke the news to the new queen and as duty became thrust on her, Martin Charteris asked her to choose a regnal name ... she chose to remain Elizabeth.
She was proclaimed queen throughout her realms, and the royal party hastily returned to the UK. Shortly thereafter, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh moved into Buckingham Palace.
More than a year was spent in preparation for the coronation ceremony. Elaborate rehearsals were carried out and, The Queen wore the heavy coronation crown around the palace on occasion - just to get used to it. Despite the death of Queen Mary ten weeks before, the coronation went ahead on June 2, 1953. Before she died, Queen Mary had asked that the coronation not be delayed. The ceremony in Westminster Abbey was the first to be televised. This opened the door and exposed the Monarchy in a way that had never been allowed previously.
Over the past 60 years, HM Queen Elizabeth II has allowed the Monarchy to change with the times and, although she has never given an interview to a journalist, she does continue to live by her moto:
I have to be seen to be believed.To celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, we have a clip from The Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert. From a balcony of Buckingham Palace, we have La Diva Renée Fleming and Alfie Boe singing an arrangement of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere".
For his part President Obama extended the heartfelt congratulations of the American people to Her Majesty in honor of her Diamond Jubilee.
Congratulations Ma'am. You are a force of nature and your duty to God and Country are to be heartily commended.