What job would you be willing to do for seven decades straight?
The “Platty Joobs” – the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrated this past weekend, ICYMI – was a fairly muted affair here in Australia, where (coincidentally) a new government just swore in its first-ever Assistant Minister for the Republic. In the UK, things were more jubilant: formal events but also street parties, cake sales, and of course bunting, bunting everywhere.
Whatever your feelings on the monarchy, it’s rare for a public figure to be so universally respected and beloved as Queen Elizabeth II. It’s also rare for anyone to stick at anything for as long, let alone as gracefully, as the 96-year-old sovereign has stuck at her inherited duties.
You could argue that hers has been a cushy life: palaces and garden parties, a daily Dubonnet and gin plus a glass or two of champagne (allegedly). But also … how many of us would be up for the constraints of royal life? The horrifying amount of small talk, the relentless exposure to the public glare – I’d be on four drinks a day too.
“The essential thing ‘in heaven and in earth’ is that there should be long obedience in the same direction,” wrote (of all people!) nihilist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. “There thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”
Consistent throughout the Queen’s life has been her steadfast Christian faith. In her first Christmas broadcast, in 1952, she asked for prayer: “that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”
In a changeable world, it’s that faithfulness that’s been the Queen’s calling card – all the days of her life.