An historic milestone was reached on February 6, 2022, for this day marked the 70th anniversary of the accession of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. The year 2022 thus stands out as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Queen ascended the British throne upon the death on February 6, 1952, of her father, King George VI, who died at his home, Sandringham, in Norfolk, England. Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, were on an official visit in Kenya at the time and soon returned home upon learning of her accession. Only a week before, the King, along with his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and younger daughter, Princess Margaret, had waved good-bye to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh as they boarded their plane to begin their official overseas journey that was scheduled to take them to Australasia. The journey was never completed and was cut short upon news of the Queen’s unexpected accession.
On the day after King George VI’s death, the Daily News (London) proclaimed to their readers that: “Today a young woman enters upon a great task.” The newspaper went on to add that, “for all her youth – she is 25 – Queen Elizabeth the Second of England has all the qualities that proclaim a queen.” Among these was “a sense of duty, a conviction of dedication that has intensified year by year.” After a reign of seventy years, the Queen’s ‘sense of duty’ and ‘conviction of dedication,’ have manifested themselves amply. In her accession declaration, Queen Elizabeth II had said that she would dedicate herself to “this heavy task that has been laid upon me so early in my life.” She also pledged to “advance the happiness and prosperity of my peoples.”
The accession of a young Queen who had been known and loved by the British people and Empire since her birth, had engendered a sense of hope and optimism at a moment when Great Britain was still in the midst of rationing. The spirit of the times was captured by one periodical of the day, the Sleaford Gazette, when it declared to its readers: “The King is dead. Long live the Queen. Man, being but mortal, must die, but our Monarchy continues … Our new sovereign, Queen Elizabeth, succeeds to a great heritage and a great name. We are, in fact, now on the threshold, in the most literal sense of the phrase, of a new Elizabethan age … Long may she reign over us!” And so she has. Queen Elizabeth II is among the longest reigning monarchs in history, the longest being King Louis XIV of France who reigned for 72 years.
Throughout nearly 70 years, the Queen had been loyally and ably supported in her duties as monarch by her late husband, Prince Philip, who died in April 2021. As she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee on the throne, there can be no doubt that her thoughts will, at times, center upon the man who had been her husband and helpmate for seven decades.
In April 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth, who was on an official visit with her parents and sisters to South Africa, had turned twenty-one. In commemorating that milestone, she made a public broadcast from Cape Town to her future subjects in which she famously said:
“… This is a happy day for me; but it is also one that brings serious thoughts, thoughts of life looming ahead with all its challenges and with all its opportunity …
There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors – a noble motto, ‘I serve.’ Those words were an inspiration to many bygone heirs to the Throne when they made their knightly dedication as they came into manhood. I cannot do quite as they did.
But through the inventions of science I can do what was not possible for any of them. I can make my solemn act of dedication with a whole Empire listening. I should like to make that dedication now. It is very simple.
I declare before you that all my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.”