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Before President and Mrs Trump left Stansted Airport for Scotland on July 13, 2018, Piers Morgan — the first winner of the American show Celebrity Apprentice — was granted exclusive access to Air Force One.

Morgan’s world exclusive interview was reported in various news outlets last weekend. The full interview aired on ITV1 on Monday’s edition of Good Morning Britain and again later that evening.

Morgan noted that time was of the essence that day. When Air Force One is at an airport, arrivals and departures are blocked until it leaves. As the Trumps’ visit with the Queen lasted 17 minutes longer than scheduled, they were delayed in getting back to Stansted. Morgan was keenly aware of this. That said, the interview was excellent, as he and the US president are long-time friends.

This is not the first time Morgan has had exclusive interview access:

It need not have been that way in January:

Last week, Morgan received a lot of criticism on Twitter from fellow journalists. As to why he never interviewed Obama:

‘Entertainers’ also had a swipe at Morgan:

Let’s face it, had other journalists been even somewhat objective, they, too, could have interviewed Trump. Only Lincoln Film & Media in England seemed cognisant of this. Well done:

Even Pip Tomson of ITV1’s Good Morning Britain didn’t mind missing a sports filled weekend to put finishing touches on an amazing interview:

Whilst waiting for Trump to return from Windsor Castle, Morgan explained the significance of Air Force One:

Metro gave us an inside scoop from Morgan:

But I’ve got to say, standing there, looking at Air Force One, going up those steps doing a little cheeky wave, which you’re not supposed to do… I thought since he was doing that anyway with the Queen, I thought I could do a bit of protocol breaking myself.

Then you get on this plane, which is just the most high-tech, sophisticated, extraordinary thing that flies in the entire world.

Air Force One staff gave him a tour of the plane:

I’ve been on a few fancy planes in my time but nothing quite like this one.

He pointed out that, when the president is on board:

Morgan wrote an article for the Mail on Sunday about his experience (emphases mine):

‘I’m sorry Mr Morgan, but you can’t sit in that chair. Only the President of the United States of America ever sits in that chair.’

I was in the Situation Room of Air Force One, the airplane used to fly the most powerful human being on earth around the world.

Hannah, the presidential aide tasked with escorting me around it, was very polite but also VERY firm.

‘You can in one of those,’ she suggested, pointing to one of the chairs around the Situation Room desk. ‘They swivel.’

Morgan continued to explore the Situation Room:

Under the TV are three digital clocks. They permanently display the same three times – Washington DC, local time and time in the next destination. To the right of the TV was a brown leather sofa. Two hi-tech phones were behind it.

‘Can I pick one up and call someone?’ I asked, reaching down to phone Lord Sugar and boast about where I was.

‘NO!!!!!’ exclaimed another aide. ‘Do NOT touch those phones… please. Thank you, sir.’

The President’s staff all exude an air of delightfully polite menace.

Morgan then checked out dinner for that Friday evening:

Cucumber Thai salad, a medley of cucumbers, radishes, spicy red chillis, chopped peanuts, basil, cilantro and mint, tossed in a homemade vinaigrette.

Thai baked salmon fillet, baked in sweet chilli sauce over a bed of jasmine rice.

Tarte lemon bar, topped with crunchy shortbread crumbles.

Metro reported:

perhaps the most surprising revelation is that the US president has specially packaged M&Ms – the blue and white striped box even has his signature on the back.

In fact, it turns out the plane is packed with sweets, also including presidential Hershey’s Kisses

‘He’s got an Oval Office there, he’s got a Situation Room, he’s even got his M&Ms. His presidential boxes of M&MS, with Donald J Trump on the back. If you get on Air Force One, you get to eat the M&Ms. Fascinating, fascinating evening.’

Morgan wrote in his aforementioned Mail on Sunday article that the staff were most thoughtful with regard to the chocolates:

‘Can I take some?’ I asked an aide.

‘We’re already ahead of you, Mr Morgan,’ smiled Hannah, handing me a large bag of the M&Ms and a dozen boxes of Air Force One matchboxes. They will solve the perennial ‘what do you get someone who’s got everything?’ birthday present dilemma. Money can’t buy this stuff.

Morgan wrote that, at one point, things got very structured very quickly:

‘The President will be here in 25 minutes,’ said Hannah, escorting me to the Situation Room. ‘Please tell your crew to hurry.’

There was now a controlled, super-efficient frenzy to her behavioural pattern. The ITV crew, who’d all been extensively security screened by the Secret Service, hurried.

No other plane was being allowed to take off or land from Stansted until Air Force One departed. So every second I delayed things meant thousands of members of the public being delayed. That’s an unusual burden for an interviewer who wants to get as much time as he can possibly get from the President when he arrives.

Several senior Air Force One staff came to introduce themselves. They were all chisel-jawed but extremely courteous. The kind of people who would kill you with their bare hands, but then apologise.

We shot some behind-the-scenes footage, then Hannah rushed back in.

‘OK, we need to de-clutter this room asap.’

We de-cluttered.

Shortly afterwards, the US ambassador Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson boarded with his wife. Morgan said they were on their way to Turnberry with the Trumps for the weekend:

Suddenly, the plane’s intercom system announced it would be five minutes until the President arrived and energy levels on the plane instantly rocketed. People were streaming all over the place, making sure everything was perfectly prepared.

I looked again out of the window and saw a fleet of helicopters including Marine One sweeping down to land next to Air Force One.

Chief of Staff John Kelly appeared:

My brother, a British Army colonel, speaks very highly of him as a military leader, and he certainly exudes an impressive air of calm authority.

‘How long do you need with the President?’ he asked.

‘As long as I can squeeze the lemon,’ I replied.

We both laughed, knowing it would be entirely at the whim of President Trump how long the lemon would allow itself to be squeezed.

Then the president appeared. Mrs Trump stopped by briefly before leaving the two men to the interview. Of the Trumps, Morgan observed:

she and Donald still seem as relaxed and happy in each other’s company as they always seemed before he went into politics.

‘I hope this doesn’t sound too patronising,’ I told her, ‘but I have great admiration for the way you have conducted yourself as First Lady. A friend of mine (Sarah Brown) did this kind of job when her husband became British Prime Minister so I know how tough it can be.’

‘I just feel it’s important to be true to yourself,’ she smiled.

Then, it was down to business:

… after Melania left, he got into game mode.

‘OK, let’s go,’ he barked, ‘the plane’s waiting to take off!’

I’d been told we had a maximum of 15 minutes for the interview, due to the flight schedule

Our long time friendship is why I am the only British TV journalist he speaks to (this was my fourth interview with him since he ran for President, two as a candidate, two as POTUS.)

Please do read the rest of the article, which is essentially a transcript of the interview.

Trump answered questions about his meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and a possible post-Brexit trade deal. The Daily Express carried the exchange:

The President said he was certain there was a good deal to be done between the two nations.

“I think we’re going to have a great trade deal,” he told Piers Morgan. “I’ve really no doubt about it.

“We’re going to get it.

“Now, if they do whatever they do, they had to, I said make sure you gave a carve out — you know I call it a carve out from this,” he continued. “You have to have a carve out — where no matter what happens, they have the right to make a deal with the United States.”

“And has Theresa May looked you in there eye and said, ‘We will get there’?” Morgan quizzed him.

“Well, she feels she’s going to be able to make a deal and yeah,” the President replied. “And again, I have to tell you, I really like her.”

Morgan asked Trump about his plans for 2020:

Also during their 30-minute conversation, Morgan quizzed the President about whether he will run again in 2020.

“I fully intend to,” Trump told him.

“You never know, err, what happens with health and other things, and we know, let’s face it —“ he continued, before Morgan interrupted: “Are you fit? You look fit.”

“I feel good,” the President replied, saying it “seems like everybody” wants him to run again.

Reuters had a bit more:

Trump said he did not see any Democrat who could beat him: “I don’t see anybody. I know them all and I don’t see anybody.”

Morgan asked Trump about the Queen. The president knows better than to divulge specifics of their conversation, but he had nothing but compliments for her:

On Monday, July 16, as Trump was about to meet with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Morgan discussed aspects of his interview with a CNN presenter. He quoted Trump expressing his desire to bring about world peace and concisely summarised the current Brexit situation.

The presenter’s wincing smile fades quickly to a stony look. The cameras cut away from her while Morgan was talking. No doubt steam was coming out of her ears. Disgraceful.

Good job, Piers, for staying the course:

Morgan clearly enjoyed the experience:

As I write, the interview can be seen on ITV Player for the next few weeks (account required, which is no big deal). N.B.: I am not sure if it is geo-localised.

After the interview, the Trumps were on their way to Scotland for some R&R. No one could have anticipated what happened there, and I’m not talking about protesters. More to come next week.

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On Friday, July 13, 2018, President Trump met with the UK’s two most powerful women.

In the morning, he met with Prime Minister Theresa May at the prime ministerial weekend residence, Chequers, regarding US-UK trade deals post-Brexit. Philip May, meanwhile, was with Melania Trump at Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Before arriving in Brussels for the NATO conference, Trump made frank remarks about the UK. On July 10, the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Speaking to journalists as he set off for Europe, Mr Trump said there were a ‘lot of things’ going on in the UK at the moment and the country seemed to be ‘somewhat in turmoil’.

‘The UK certainly has a lot of things going on,’ he said.  

Boris Johnson’s a friend of mine. He’s been very, very nice to me. Very supportive.

‘And maybe we’ll speak to him when I get over there. 

I like Boris Johnson. I’ve always liked him.’ 

Asked by DailyMail.com whether Mrs May should continue as PM, Mr Trump said ‘that is up to the people’.

However, he added that he had a ‘very good relationship’ with Mrs May. 

Mr Trump joked that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be the ‘easiest’ leg of his trip to Europe.

The Mail said that the Prime Minister was unruffled and looked forward to meeting with Trump:

Asked directly abut his incendiary comments, she said: ‘I am looking forward to seeing president Trump not only at the Nato summit in the next couple of days but also when he comes to the UK. 

‘There is much for us to discuss.’

She added: ‘We will be talking positively about how we can continue to work together in our special relationship for the good of people living in the UK and the United States and, actually, for the wider good‘ …

Downing Street insisted they were ‘relaxed’ about the intervention, pointing out that Mr Trump also stressed his ‘very good’ relations with Mrs May. A spokesman said the president was ‘being humorous’ with his remark about the Putin meeting.

The weekend before, Mrs May convened ministers at Chequers to put forward a ‘soft’ Brexit plan, released as a government white paper on the day of the dinner at Blenheim Palace, July 12. A number of MPs resigned their ministerial posts as a result. A leadership contest could well be in the offing. In addition to Boris Johnson, another front runner is the ‘hard’ Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who took London’s LBC talk radio calls on July 10:

This seems off-topic until one considers that Trump said that the US might not be able to make trade deals with the UK in the case of a ‘soft’ (EU-tied) Brexit. Instead, the US might have to negotiate with the EU to trade with Britain.

Whilst the dinner May put on for the Trumps, the American entourage and British business leaders at Blehneim Palace on July 12 went very well, Trump had sounded a warning on future trade negotiations in a Sun interview that appeared that evening. BT.com reported:

Donald Trump has warned Theresa May her Brexit plan could “kill” any UK-US trade deal because Britain would remain so closely aligned to the European Union.

The US president said he would have done the Brexit negotiations “much differently” and claimed the Prime Minister did not listen to his advice, in an interview with The Sun.

His highly-controversial remarks came at the end of a day in which he had already waded deeply into the Brexit row over Theresa May’s white paper ahead of his first official visit to Britain as President.

He had used a Thursday morning press conference in Brussels to attack the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan and highlight Cabinet divisions.

In a Sun interview released while Mr Trump and First Lady Melania were being entertained by the Prime Minister at Blenheim Palace, the president said: “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal”.

The comments, following on from the morning press conference, will a cause of great concern for Mrs May.

She had used the Blenheim black tie dinner with political and business leaders to press Mr Trump on the benefits of a free trade deal after Brexit …

Speaking to reporters in Belgium after a fiery Nato Summit, Mr Trump had described the UK as a “hot spot right now with a lot of resignations” and dismissed the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan on the next stage of Brexit.

That day, May’s 98-page white paper appeared, proffering an ‘Association Agreement’ with the EU. BT.com reported:

The 98-page document sets out a significantly “softer” version of Brexit than desired by more eurosceptic Tories, and prompted the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis from Mrs May’s Cabinet earlier this week.

Extracts of Mr Davis’s alternative White Paper, published on the ConservativeHome website, show that the former Brexit secretary was planning a “Canada plus plus plus” free trade deal based on mutual recognition of independent systems of regulation.

By contrast, Mrs May’s plan involves the UK accepting a “common rulebook” on trade in goods, with a treaty commitment to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules.

It envisages the UK entering an Association Agreement with the EU and making continued payments for participation in shared agencies and programmes.

And it states that an independent arbitration panel set up to resolve UK-EU disputes will be able to seek guidance from the European Court of Justice, but only on the interpretation of EU law.

The Eurosceptics are correct: that is not what 52% of voters had in mind when they voted to Leave on June 23, 2016. Trump was diplomatic:

Mr Trump said it seemed the Prime Minister’s plans meant the UK was “getting at least partially involved back with the European Union”.

Borrowing one of Mrs May’s old slogans, Mr Trump told a Brussels press conference: “I would say Brexit is Brexit. The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route – I don’t know if that is what they voted for.”

That was part of the backdrop to Trump’s meeting with May.

However, there is also a historical aspect to America’s trade with Britain, explored below:

Over the past few years:

Meetings had taken place beforehand between Liam Fox and Woody Johnson:

Defence is highly important …

… as is international co-operation:

With the last two areas of shared interest in mind, it was not surprising that the Prime Minister hosted Trump at Sandhurst that morning before their meeting at Chequers:

After the bilateral meetings at Chequers concluded, May and Trump held a joint press conference (YouTube video here), excerpted below.

PRIME MINISTER MAY: … This morning, President Trump and I visited Sandhurst, where we saw a demonstration of joint working between British and American special forces. Just one example of what is today the broadest, deepest, and most advanced security cooperation of any two countries in the world …

That partnership is set to grow, with our armies integrating to a level unmatched anywhere, and the UK set to spend £24 billion on U.S. equipment and support over the next decade.

Today, we’ve also discussed how we can deepen our work together to respond to malign state activity, terrorism, and serious crime. In particular, on Russia, I thanked President Trump for his support in responding to the appalling use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, after which he expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers. And I welcomed his meeting with President Putin in Helsinki on Monday. We agreed that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity, and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies.

Turning to our economic cooperation, with mutual investment between us already over $1 trillion, we want to go further. We agreed today that, as the UK leaves the European Union, we will pursue an ambitious U.S.-UK free trade agreement. The Chequers Agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies, a deal that builds on the UK’s independent trade policy, reducing tariffs; delivering a gold standard in financial services cooperation; and, as two of the world’s most advanced economies, seizing the opportunity of new technology …

And that is why I’m confident that this transatlantic alliance will continue to be the bedrock of our shared security and prosperity for years to come.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Prime Minister, thank you very much. And it is my true honor to join you at this remarkable setting — truly magnificent — as we celebrate the special relationship between our two countries. On behalf of the American people, I want to thank you for your very gracious hospitality. Thank you very much, Theresa …

Today, it’s a true privilege to visit historic Chequers that I’ve heard so much about and read so much about growing up in history class, and to continue our conversation, which has really proceeded along rapidly and well over the last few days …

Before our dinner last night, Melania and I joined Prime Minister May, Mr. May, and the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough for a tour of the Winston Churchill Exhibit at Blenheim Palace. It was something; it was something very special. It was from right here at Chequers that Prime Minister Churchill phoned President Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. In that horrific war, American and British servicemembers bravely shed their blood alongside one another in defense of home and in defense of freedom. And together, we achieved a really special, magnificent victory. And it was total victory …

In our meetings today, the Prime Minister and I discussed a range of shared priorities, including stopping nuclear proliferation. I thanked Prime Minister May for her partnership in our pursuit of a nuclear-free North Korea. She’s been a tremendous help.

The Prime Minister and I also discussed Iran. We both agree that Iran must never possess a nuclear weapon and that I must halt, and we must do it — and I’m going to do it and she’s going to do it, and we’re all going to do it together. We have to stop terrorism. It’s a scourge. We have to stop terrorism. And we have to get certain countries — and they’ve come a long way, I believe — the funding of terrorism has to stop, and it has to stop now.

I encouraged the Prime Minister to sustain pressure on the regime. And she needed absolutely no encouragement, because she, in fact, also encourages me. And we’re doing that, and we’re doing that together — very closely coordinated.

The United Kingdom and the United States are also strengthening cooperation between our armed forces, who serve together on battlefields all around the world.

Today, the Prime Minister and I viewed several U.S.-UK Special Forces demonstration — we saw some demonstrations today, frankly, that were incredible. The talent of these young brave, strong people. We saw it at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Seamless cooperation between our militaries is really just vital to addressing the many shared security threats. We have threats far different than we’ve ever had before. They’ve always been out there, but these are different and they’re severe. And we will handle them well.

We also recognize the vital importance of border security and immigration control. In order to prevent foreign acts of terrorism within our shores, we must prevent terrorists and their supporters from gaining admission in the first place …

I also want to thank Prime Minister May for pursuing fair and reciprocal trade with the United States. Once the Brexit process is concluded, and perhaps the U.K. has left the EU — I don’t know what they’re going to do, but whatever you do is okay with me. That’s your decision. Whatever you’re going to do is okay with us. Just make sure we can trade together; that’s all that matters. The United States looks forward to finalizing a great bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries, and we will seize it fully.

We support the decision of the British people to realize full self-government, and we will see how that goes. Very complicated negotiation and not an easy negotiation, that’s for sure. A strong and independent United Kingdom, like a strong and independent United States, is truly a blessing on the world.

Prime Minister May, I want to thank you again for the honor of visiting the United Kingdom — a special place. My mother was born here, so it means something maybe just a little bit extra; maybe even a lot extra. And we had a wonderful visit. Last night, I think I got to know the Prime Minister better than at any time. We spent a lot of time together over a year and a half. But last night, we really — I was very embarrassed for the rest of the table. We just talked about lots of different problems and solutions to those problems. And it was a great evening.

As we stand together this afternoon at Chequers, we continue a long tradition of friendship, collaboration, and affection between ourselves and also between our people. The enduring relationship between our nations has never been stronger than it is now.

So, Madam Prime Minister, thank you very much. It’s been an honor. Thank you. Thank you, Theresa.

BT.com reported that Trump apologised for the biting statements he had made to The Sun (article since updated to show photos of his UK visit) before he arrived. The article also has a photo of Mrs May smiling broadly:

Mr Trump said he apologised to Mrs May over the Sun front page story, and she replied: “Don’t worry it’s only the press.”

But he repeated his praise of Mr Johnson, saying: “Boris Johnson, I think, would be a great prime minister.”

Mrs May said it was “all of our responsibility to ensure that transatlantic unity endures”.

The PM said the United States is “keen” to do a deal with the UK.

“We will do a trade deal with them and with others around the rest of the world,” she added.

Then it was time for the US president to rejoin his wife and meet the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Elizabeth II has met every serving US president during her reign, except, it seems, for Lyndon Johnson. She has met Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama — and, now, Donald Trump.

Visiting the Queen meant a lot to President Trump, because his mother, born in Scotland, was an avid fan of hers and watched her appearances when they were transmitted in the US.

He gave The Sun his longstanding impressions of her earlier in the week:

You can see how pleased he was here:

BT.com reported that the visit, which included tea, lasted longer than previously scheduled:

The president, whose visit to Windsor Castle lasted 57 minutes – 17 more than expected – kept his jacket unbuttoned.

The Queen greeted the Trumps:

The monarch and the president then inspected a Guard of Honour:

Then:

The video below gives a view of where the Queen and her guests stood in relation to the Guards:

Afterwards:

Here is a bit of history about the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards:

Then it was time for a tour — and tea:

The Queen provided a reception for those accompanying the president, which included his press secretary:

These two short videos nicely recap the Trumps’ first official visit to England:

Then it was off to Scotland for the weekend at the president’s Turnberry golf resort:

More about Trump’s weekend tomorrow.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) celebrated 100 years of defending the United Kingdom.

The most important part of the day was the RAF’s receiving a new colour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The colour was consecrated at Westminster Abbey:

A Service of Thanksgiving, open to the public, was also held that morning at St Clement Danes in the Strand, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. The church is unusual as it sits in the middle of the Strand.

Afterwards, the Presentation of the Colours was made at Buckingham Palace, where the RAF gathered in the forecourt. The centenary ceremony attracted a large number of spectators around the Palace and along the Mall, suitably decorated with Union flags and RAF flags:

The Presentation of Colours ended with a magnificent flypast of RAF planes from the Second World War to the present day. They flew in from various RAF bases around the country. It took months of work behind the scenes logistically to ensure that the planes — numbering 100 in total — arrived for the flypast on time and in position.

This is the Queen’s relationship to the RAF:

Below are a series of tweets of the ceremony:

Afterwards:

Another reception took place on Horse Guards parade:

It was yet another occasion to make one feel proud to be British!

Profound thanks go to the RAF for all they have done — and continue to do — in defence of the nation!

May God continue to guide and bless the RAF over the next 100 years!

On Monday, February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II achieved what no other British monarch has: a Sapphire Jubilee.

The Queen acceded the throne 65 years ago, following the death of her father, King George VI.

Her Majesty celebrated the day privately at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. She attended Sunday service at St Peter and St Paul in West Newton, Norfolk, where she greeted well wishers and accepted bouquets of flowers afterwards.

Military salutes were given in London on Monday. The Telegraph has photos and reported:

Royal gun salutes were staged in London on Accession Day, as is the tradition, with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at noon.

The Band of the Royal Artillery played a selection of celebratory music close to the firing position as 89 horses pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position in the park.

A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 1pm.

The photo above was taken in 2014. Buckingham Palace re-released it for the Sapphire Jubilee.

Sky News explains:

The picture was taken by the photographer David Bailey in 2014 for the GREAT campaign, a publicity campaign to promote Britain around the world.

In the photograph The Queen is wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding present in 1947.

It was on the 6 February, 1952 that her father died while at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, who was 25, was in Kenya on a royal tour with her husband Prince Philip at the time.

Although no national celebrations are planned this year, the Royal Mint is issuing a set of commemorative coins. Royal Mail has released a £5 commemorative stamp in sapphire blue.

Two years ago, when the Queen became Britain’s longest-ever reigning monarch, she said that achieving that landmark was:

“not one to which I have ever aspired”.

She added: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.”

Those of us who treasure her give thanks and wish her well for many more years as our monarch.

As Her Majesty is approaching her 91st birthday this year, the Duke of Cambridge — Prince William — is taking on more official royal appearances on her behalf.

With regard to length of reign, Queen Victoria comes second in the list with 63 years. Then we go further back in history to George III, who ruled for 59 years, 96 days (1760-1820). James VI of Scotland served for 57 years, 246 days (1567-1625).

In fifth place — incredibly, given it that this was during the Middle Ages — is Henry III of England and Lord of Ireland, who reigned for 56 years and 29 days between 1216 and 1272.

Image result for leopard skin kitten heelsJuly 14 is Bastille Day, but here in Britain it is May Day. We are interested in our new Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet appointments.

Mrs May has long been associated with leopard skin kitten heel shoes which she wore several years ago at a Conservative Party conference. (Representative ones are shown at left.)

(Photo credits: mozimo.co.uk)

In fact, at the weekend, my better half and I spoke with an older local resident. This man told us, quite seriously (verbatim), ‘I do hope Mrs May wins the leadership contest. Oh, those kitten heel shoes … I do like a firm woman, one who knows what she’s about.’

My overseas readers might ask what happened to the Conservative leadership contest. This is how it all unfolded.

Andrea Leadsom’s miserable weekend

Last weekend, the other candidate running for Conservative Party leader, Andrea Leadsom, gave an interview to Rachel Sylvester of The Times.

Sylvester, incidentally, is married to the Diplomatic Editor of The Guardian, Patrick Wintour. Wintour’s sister Anna is the famous editor of the American edition of Vogue. Their late father, Charles, is best known for editing the London Evening Standard, although he also held similar senior positions at the Daily Express and The Times.

Sylvester asked Leadsom what set her apart from May. Leadsom, always interested in children, answered, in part:

… genuinely, I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next … so I have a real stake in the next year, the next two.

The interview made The Times‘s front page. A media storm ensued. Leadsom tweeted that the quotes were ‘truly appalling’ and the exact opposite of what she actually said. Sylvester defended her interview, claiming that Leadsom was the one who brought children into it. However, renowned political blogger Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) listened to the transcript and said that Sylvester wove motherhood into her question, something the journalist later admitted in a BBC interview. Fawkes concluded (highlights in the original):

Goes without saying that Leadsom completely denies raising the issue, calling the claim “gutter journalism”. The only way to establish whether or not Andrea Leadsom has been stitched up is to release the full recording – something The Times is refusing to do…

On Saturday, July 9, Leadsom gave a press conference from her home in Northamptonshire at which she said:

Everyone has an equal stake in the future of our country.

However, it was too late. Several Conservative MPs — men and women — criticised Leadsom’s remark on motherhood.

By Sunday, Leadsom admitted to The Telegraph‘s Alison Pearson that she felt:

under attack, under enormous pressure. It has been shattering.

By lunchtime on Monday, July 11, Leadsom announced she was dropping out of the leadership contest.

That afternoon, David Cameron made a brief announcement, saying that a new Prime Minister would be in place by Wednesday evening. He walked back to No. 10, unaware that the microphones were still on. This is what the world heard:

The Telegraph noted:

Somehow, it sounded half-mournful, half-jaunty. It was strangely touching. 

It was a very human moment. It brought a smile.

Speaking of which, July 11 marked the first time the British public saw Theresa May smile (see picture at the top of the Telegraph link). Finally, we saw another side to the ‘steely’ Home Secretary who had served the nation for six years.

Cameron’s final hours

On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 12, an empty removals van arrived at 10 Downing Street:

Simply Removals will no doubt be getting a lot of new business.

This may look trivial, but it is important in the British psyche with regard to a new Prime Minister. It represents the beginning of the transfer of power from one to another. I remember in November 1990 when John Major was announced as Margaret Thatcher’s successor. My colleagues explained that nothing would happen until the removals van arrived.

On Wednesday, Cameron presided over his last PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions). It was a witty, informative and heart-warming 45 minutes, including those questions and remarks from Leader of the Opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, who wore a tie. Cameron remarked upon it in the nicest possible way to much laughter from the benches.

Conservative MPs thanked Cameron for his achievements and some mentioned particular instances in their own constituencies, particularly the sharp drop in unemployment in certain parts of England.

Even a handful of Labour MPs thanked Cameron for his service.

At the end, the Conservatives gave him a standing ovation. All the Labour MPs heartily applauded him.

Afterwards, Cameron returned to spend a few hours at No. 10 before he gave his farewell speech around 4:45 p.m. His wife Samantha and their three children stood off to the side. Cameron recalled how his youngest, Florence (in Samantha’s womb when Cameron first entered No. 10 in May 2010) once climbed into his red ministerial box when she was little and begged him to take her along on one of his trips. He said that his two older children were known to kick the red boxes, they were so frustrated with their father’s absences from home.

The children, rightly, looked nervous. They had never been in the public eye until now.

Cameron also detailed his many achievements as Prime Minister — a lengthy list. We were blessed to have had him in that post for six years.

Just before 5 p.m., the Cameron family left No. 10 for Buckingham Palace. David and Samantha were in one car and the children in another.

The Queen’s role

Even more important than the removals van was the constitutional step of the outgoing Prime Minister asking the Queen for permission to resign.

This is a formality nowadays, since the successor has already been chosen by the political party, whether Conservative or Labour. However, it was not always so. When the Queen first ascended to the throne, the BBC News panel covering the afternoon’s events said that she used to seek advice from party grandees — the most senior MPs and advisers — on whom would be best placed to become the next Prime Minister. One Royal Family reporter said that this stopped in the 1960s after the Palace had a hand in the appointment of Anthony Eden — responsible for the Suez crisis in 1956 — and Alec Douglas-Home who served for only one year.

It is unlikely that the Queen would refuse a Prime Minister’s resignation. Nonetheless, she must be asked. The outgoing Prime Minister then recommends his or her successor to her. Again, these days, it is unlikely she would refuse that person.

In fact, Theresa May and her husband were already in a car waiting outside the Houses of Parliament. The driver awaited instructions from the Palace to leave. As soon as the Cameron family was being driven away — in black cars, no longer the silver Prime Ministerial ones — the car with the Mays pulled up in the forecourt.

The Queen spent a good half hour with David Cameron. Much of that was a private conversation between the two, then the whole family had an audience with her.

The monarch spent the same amount of time with Theresa May, again most of that privately, then with her husband included for a general conversation.

The Queen already knows Theresa May somewhat because, as Home Secretary, she was part of the Privy Council which meets with her at the Palace.

The Queen would have asked her to form a government. When the Queen issues this request of an incoming, consenting Prime Minister, that person must ‘kiss hands’ with her. In May’s case, this was a shake of the hands and a deep curtsey, à la Margaret Thatcher.

It is possible that the Queen asked May questions about the future government and its direction, although we will never know. Revealing private conversations of that nature is strictly forbidden.

The BBC panel said that, when the Queen was younger, she found the advice of Prime Ministers extremely helpful. That later turned into the Queen’s advising her Prime Ministers. The relationship is that of a CEO (PM) reporting to the Chairman (the Queen).

Theresa May is the 13th Prime Minister to serve under the Queen. It is interesting that she also was granted that position on July 13.

Like her predecessors, May will be expected to meet weekly with the Queen when Parliament is in session. The early Wednesday evening time — Cameron’s — might continue. We can but see.

The Mays left Buckingham Palace shortly before 6 p.m. in the silver Prime Ministerial car. They were in place at No. 10 in time for the evening news.

Security detail

Security cars and motorcycles escorted the Camerons and the Mays to and from Buckingham Palace.

The Camerons, like other former Prime Ministerial families or couples, will continue to have security detail in future.

Theresa May’s address to the nation

Theresa May no sooner got out of the car with her husband Philip when she addressed the people of Great Britain. Philip stood off to the side.

The Spectator has the full transcript, most of which follows. It sounds very centrist if not Labour-like. Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

I have just been to Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new government, and I accepted. In David Cameron, I follow in the footsteps of a great, modern Prime Minister … David Cameron has led a one nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead. Because not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. And that word unionist is very important to me.

It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it means something else that is just as important, it means we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from. That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home …

If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly. I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The Government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you

As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.

That will be the mission of the Government I lead. And together, we will build a better Britain.

This is a very good outcome for the nation in just under three weeks from the EU Referendum result and Cameron’s resignation.

Tomorrow: more about Theresa May and her Cabinet

The Guardian had a classic piece criticising the street parties held at the weekend in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Journalist Dawn Foster clearly had a bee in her bonnet. Excerpts follow:

Friends of mine who live in areas where street parties are in the works have, without exception, reported that the people responsible are the perennially furious residents who spend most of their lives in a rage about parking. Shifting their attention from the contentious temporary ownership of asphalt, they have decided the neighbourhood needs to commemorate the birthday of a 90-year-old woman none of the residents have met …

The twee side of nationalism harks back to a bygone era of a “stiff upper lip”, and is intrinsically bound up with the legacy of boarding schools. Its practitioners have a tendency to suggest people have been too harsh when criticising our colonial history. Several years ago they would have been laughed out of the building, but now this brand of chummy nationalism is widespread …

The coming weekend will feature an assault course of men in red trousers telling you how “jolly good” it is that “our Liz” has reached the age people in her income bracket often do, as they wave paper Union Jacks …

It’s possible to be a good neighbour without indulging in these performative pastiches of community. Speaking to people on your street should be an everyday occurrence, not prompted only by an unreciprocated love for the unelected Queen …

Readers’ comments were mixed. I rather liked this one:

The article neglects the fact that the Queen has been in power for over 60 years, through periods of austerity as well as more lavish times. In none of those, though, did she really have any authority to do more than suggest a more temperate approach (should she have decided to do so). She also presided over periods when the middle class was in the ascendant and when it was losing ground. It is a bit of a ‘straw man’ argument to try to blame her for all the failed policies of the various governments that were in power during that period.

If we accept that the role of the Queen is essentially that of a figurehead (and perhaps a role model), rather than an actual person with authority, we must conclude that she’s done a pretty good job. Governments come and go and society changes, but through good times and bad, Her Majesty has always been around.

Indeed, and that is what and who Britons celebrated last weekend.

On September 6, 2015, Channel 4 broadcast The Queen’s Big Night Out, which told us about the one evening in her life when she was most able to be a member of the public. It was a fascinating programme and beautifully narrated by actor Allan Corduner.

This post summarises the programme’s content.

(Photo credits: Wikipedia)

May 8, 1945

As soon as Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 3 p.m. announcement that the Second World War had ended, the British public flooded into the streets to celebrate. That day, half a million people ‘poured into London’. Some travelled by train just to party in the capital.

After six years of war, one-third of a million of Britons had lost their lives. Three-quarters of a million homes had been destroyed.

Although rationing would continue for another nine years, at least they no longer had to worry about heading for bomb shelters, a frequent occurrence in London.

On VE Day, Britons heard the first radio weather forecast in years. These had been suppressed for security reasons.

Street lamps, neon signs and house lights lit that night startled many Britons who had become accustomed to total darkness. The lights-out measure was also for security purposes, to try and keep German pilots from finding their targets.

Crowds in London flooded The Mall, waiting for George VI and the Royal Family to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The King gave a radio address about the war coming to an end. He and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) appeared on the balcony to rapturous cheers.

Pubs stayed open late that night. Some ran out of beer. People, even total strangers, hugged and kissed each other. Dancing went on everywhere. It was ‘mayhem in the nicest of ways’.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret

On VE Day, Princess Elizabeth was 19. Princess Margaret was 14. They had spent much of the war at Windsor Castle.

Margaret Rhodes, 89, one of the Queen’s cousins and her close friend, recalled that Princess Elizabeth was privately tutored there by the headmaster of nearby Eton. Princess Margaret was envious that she was not afforded the same privilege.

Princess Elizabeth went on to serve in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) with the rank of Second Subaltern. She learned to drive and work as a mechanic.

The princesses’ night out

Margaret Rhodes, who was at Buckingham Palace that day, remembers that the princesses asked permission to leave the palace. The King was reluctant to allow his daughters to leave, however, he relented.

Sixteen members of the Royal Household accompanied the princesses, Rhodes and Jean Woodruff, who later became a lady in waiting, for a night in the streets of London. The Queen recalled in 1985 that she pulled her uniform cap over her forehead in an attempt to disguise herself until a military officer in the entourage said he was not going to accompany her unless she wore her uniform correctly. She adjusted her cap and the group left the palace.

They were able to see their parents on the balcony of the palace waving to the crowds. That was at 9 p.m.

The group managed to make their way down the Mall. By 10 p.m., they’d reached Horseguards Parade, also teeming with people expressing ‘happiness and relief’.

At 10:30, the Royal entourage reached Trafalgar Square, full of Britons kissing, huggnig and dancing.

Group Captain Peter Townsend was among those protecting the princesses. Princess Margaret was fascinated by him (their later romance was quashed), although his only intention was to ensure the safety of his Royal charges.

The entourage reached Piccadilly Circus at 11 p.m., just when the crowds were at their peak. This was the most boisterous area of central London. Knowing this, the group tried to stay on the outer edges but the force of the crowds pushed them ever closer to the centre.

Piccadilly Circus in the 1940s was not quite what it is now. Back then, prostitutes stood around the Eros statue and lit torches (flashlights) to discreetly show off their legs. Nearby newspaper vendors sold condoms. The Regent Palace Hotel (as was) charged for rooms by the hour.

The Royal party reached The 400 Club, by 11:15. It was a favourite of some in the group and was also known for its upper-class assignations. They didn’t tarry, however, and joined the conga line down Piccadilly going towards the Ritz. The future Queen was ‘just another face in the crowd, laughing and joking’.

When they reached the Ritz at 11:30, the Royal entourage continued to conga as they entered the hotel. Margaret Rhodes remembered it as a poke in the eye to the hotel’s clientèle, ‘so stuffy’. Their shock didn’t last long, however, as the princesses had to be back at Buckingham Palace by midnight.

They had a shock of their own at Green Park, however. It was 11:45 p.m., and couples were engaging in public displays of affection and sexual congress everywhere. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had never seen a couple kiss much less anything more. Used condoms were scattered on the ground. Some overly excited people inexplicably burnt deck chairs.

In an interview many years later, the Queen said that she had sent a message to her parents asking them to return to the balcony at midnight, so that she and her sister could see them from street level. The crowds were still outside the palace.

VE Day was the one time the Queen could let her hair down. It was her one night of relative freedom which she still remembers fondly today. Yes, she had a few drinks and danced with the public. However, she was still mindful of her status and was wearing her ATS uniform. Ultimately, she had to behave herself.

In the weeks that followed, Labour won the general election. Their government would establish the National Health Service and state provision for the needy.

This came as no surprise to the Queen. She knew people had become accustomed to centralised government and state control during the war years.

A few years later, when Princess Margaret reached majority age, she and her friends frequented the American Bar at the Savoy. Her sister, attended by ladies in waiting, sometimes joined them, always at 8 p.m. and, even then, only for a short while. The Queen was — and continues to be — above reproach in every respect.

Today, BBC1 broadcast the Queen’s 90th birthday walkabout from Windsor.

Tens of thousands attended and Her Majesty unveiled a plaque at The Queen’s Walkway, which is 6.3km long and marks 63 significant points of interest in the town.

Although the majority of well-wishers were British, a number of them, especially women, came from Commonwealth countries and the United States. One British-American group of women met in the crowd at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They have kept in touch ever since and made plans to attend this historic event.

Queen Elizabeth looked resplendent in a ‘spring grass green’ coat and matching hat trimmed with fresh white and yellow flowers. She was all smiles as she accepted cards, flowers and gifts from young and old alike. She deftly handed them to her lady in waiting. Groups of schoolchildren and adults sang Happy Birthday as she walked along the route. Prince Philip kept a discreet distance behind his wife and also talked to the crowds.

As one commentator put it, when it comes to meeting the public, the Royal Family say, ‘We’re in the happiness business’. The BBC interviewed a variety of celebrities and authors who have met the Queen. Everyone said that they were in awe of her but felt at home at the same time. They added that she puts you at the centre, however briefly.

Most people lining Windsor’s streets have never known any other British monarch. Sixty-three years and counting is a very long, intergenerational time — the longest any sovereign has ever ruled over our nation.

During that time, the world has seen rapid change and upheaval. One pundit said that the Queen’s presence gives us a sense of stability and continuity. No matter what happens, she is there with us as our head of state.

The mayor of Windsor and the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire acted as hosts for the walkabout and tea party at the town’s Guildhall. At the Guildhall, the Queen and Prince Philip met several nonagenarians. The Queen then cut her birthday cake, made by last year’s Great British Bake Off winner Nadia. Another Bake Off contestant from the same series, Martha, also baked cakes for the party guests.

After spending time at the Guildhall, the Queen and Prince Philip stepped into a brand new custom Range Rover which has a large open-top roof, allowing both of them to stand and wave to the crowds as they were driven down streets in Windsor town centre. Someone dubbed it the Queenmobile.

This evening, the Queen will celebrate her birthday at Windsor Castle with 60 people, family and friends. Entertainment will be laid on.

A discussion took place as to whether the Queen knew what was being planned. Those in the know said that she probably did. She does not like surprises. She likes an orderly plan for everything.

They also said that while Queen Elizabeth presides as head of state, Prince Philip is the head of the household. He gives the orders for everything, including when to clear plates from the table. Servants watch him for the cue.

Commentators said that Windsor Castle really is the nexus for the Royal Family. Everyone feels comfortable there. They also consider Windsor as their home town. They know a lot of people there and feel an affinity with all the residents.

In closing, RMC (French talk radio) announced the walkabout on their morning news broadcasts. One of the talk show hosts also mentioned the new Royal website. He added that part of the job description for the site’s community manager, who also is in charge of tweets, is to have lunch with the Queen whenever she is in residence. How wonderful!

Queen Elizabeth II March 2015.jpgQueen Elizabeth turns 90 on Thursday, April 21.

Millions of people, not just in the UK but around the world, will wish her a very happy birthday and many happy returns.

Britons are blessed to have her as their head of state. She is the glue that holds us together.

What has made her so successful and well respected?

On October 31, 2015, Channel 4 broadcast How to Be Queen: 63 Years and Counting which revealed the ‘secrets’ of the woman who is more popular than ever.

Below is a countdown of the Queen’s ten secrets to No. 1 — the most important. The subheads below come directly from the programme and the text summarises its content.

10/ Stay out of politics

The film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, explores this principle in depth, especially in the depictions of her conversations with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Queen does not say anything about politics outside of her family circle, however, to politicians like Blair, she makes her thoughts known through a look or a brief remark that can cut one down to size in an instant.

By contrast, Prince Charles, whose opinions are well known on a variety of subjects, has little of his mother’s near-universal appeal. Perhaps it is time he took a leaf out of his mother’s notebook.

9/ Say nothing

Unlike Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, the Queen does not give interviews.

Discretion is the better part of valour.

The only exception was in 1992 when the Queen noted in her Christmas Day message to the nation how awful that year had been, but used a Latin expression. She pronounced it an ‘Annus Horribilis‘. A number of Royal scandals broke that year. Windsor Castle also caught fire and was seriously damaged.

8/ Do your duty

The Queen was brought up to do her duty to the nation. She has never wavered from serving her people.

She is the opposite of two of her ancestors. When Queen Victoria’s son Edward VII ascended to the throne in January 1901, he continued his previous playboy lifestyle, even though he was married to Princess Alexandra.

A more shocking example, however, was that of Edward VIII who reigned for 326 days in 1936 before abdicating to lead his own life. After abdication, he took his ladyfriend, American divorcée Wallis Simpson, whom he later married, on a trip to Nazi Germany. Understandably, public opinion was so hostile to him that he spent most of the rest of his life in France. His successor (brother) George VI — Queen Elizabeth’s father — and his mother Queen Mary threatened to cut off his allowance if he returned to the UK uninvited. It is no wonder that Britons over the age of 50 consider him to be one of our worst ever monarchs.

7/ Don’t fluff your lines

The Queen has always delivered her addresses in a clear, professional way.

The Queen Mother no doubt had a role to play in that. Her husband George VI had a stammer which marred his radio addresses to the nation. His speech therapy was the subject of the film The King’s Speech. The film builds up to the King’s wartime broadcast of 1939, which had to be delivered flawlessly to have the necessary gravitas. A nation held its breath. Fortunately, all went well. The Queen’s father occasionally stammered after that, but much less so than previously. The British public considered him all the more human for it.

6/ Protect the brand

The Queen has always been conscious of the Royal Family’s status as a brand.

The Queen Mother instilled that in her from childhood, but it actually originated with George V during the Great War. He and Kaiser Wilhelm were first cousins. The British public were understandably unhappy during a time when anti-German sentiment was rampant. George V changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor, after the castle.

In 1917, the King faced another difficulty, this time involving another cousin, Tsar Nicholas. He wanted very much to bring the tsar and his family in Russia to safety in the UK but decided against it. He feared that bringing the Russian royals to Britain would also foment a revolt in Britain, similar to the Russian Revolution.

Unfortunately, not all of the Queen’s children share her desire to protect the brand. Some royals appeared in the television programme It’s a Royal Knockout in 1987. Rather than boost their popularity, it did the opposite. Lesson learned.

Ironically, it is the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who makes the most gaffes, too numerous to mention here. Reading them is painful, but people who have met him and heard them find them rather amusing. Hmm.

5/ Don’t mix with the staff

When it comes to confiding in her staff, the Queen appears to abide by the maxim ‘Trust no one’. Her record is blemish-free.

This has not always been the case with previous monarchs. After Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria spent a lot of time with Mr Brown and then Abdul Karim. These associations with palace attendants scandalised the royal household and the courtiers.

More recently, Princess Diana confided in her butler Paul Burrell, which generated much publicity for him after her death and some difficulty for the Royal Family as a result.

4/ Earn your keep

The Queen was brought up to be a hard worker.

She understands that if one is going to live at the taxpayer’s expense, one had better earn one’s keep.

She, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne are the most dedicated of the Royals. Much of the charity work that Princess Anne does goes unnoticed by the media, and that is the way she likes it.

The Queen is careful to work hard and maintain a sober, low-profile private life.

Her responsible approach contrasts with Edward VII’s partying and cavorting more than a century ago. In our time, Prince Andrew rightly came under public criticism for his affair with Koo Stark in the 1980s and, in recent years, for his profligate air travel.

3/ Keep a stiff upper lip

The Queen always controls her emotions.

She was brought up to practise emotional reserve and displayed little physical affection for her children.

Her grandfather George V was also very reserved, even towards his wife, Queen Mary. With regard to his children, the Channel 4 programme said he was ‘cold’.

Does this mean there was no love? Hardly. In fact, many Britons would point to the old dictum ‘Still waters run deep’.

The Queen’s children have taken a different approach to parenting. Prince Charles, in particular, was careful to show his sons much affection in their childhood.

One of the few times one could see a scintilla of deep emotion in the Queen was when the royal yacht Britannia was decommissioned. Television news footage captured the monarch, her lips quivering ever so slightly as she blinked rapidly.

2/ Find true love

The Queen is deeply in love with Prince Philip and always has been.

The feeling is mutual. The couple have been married for nearly 70 years.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton) share that same sort of love.

The film The Young Victoria depicted Queen Victoria’s profound love for Prince Albert in the 19th century. Her diaries record that he used to help her dress in the morning and would put her stockings on for her.

1/ Listen to the people

The Queen has only had one crisis during her reign and she mitigated that by listening to the people.

Another thing that helped was not to react instantly but rather wait and see what way the wind is blowing.

This troublesome period was the week following the death of Princess Diana at the end of August 1997. The Queen and the Royal Family were on summer holiday at Balmoral in Scotland at the time. The Queen decided they should leave for London four days later.

Meanwhile, public emotions were at fever pitch. I know. I worked in London at the time and saw a few of my female colleagues rail against the Queen, calling for her death. A lot of women laying flowers at Kensington Palace felt the same way. Television reporters interviewed a number of them for news broadcasts every day. The newspapers were filled with anti-Royal sentiment.

Once in London, the Queen went on a walkabout in front of Kensington Palace to see the queues of people ready to lay flowers in front of the late princess’s residence. The Queen has a scene which actually took place that day, later shown on the news. Queen Elizabeth spoke to a little girl holding a posy. She said something to the girl about the flowers being for Princess Diana. The little girl said, ‘These are for you’, and handed her the bouquet. That moment reversed the Queen’s dismal week because it signalled the turning of the tide away from animosity.

Later that day, the Queen gave a televised address to the nation with regard to Princess Diana’s death. It was her first public statement on the subject. Admittedly, then-Prime Minister Tony Blair had been advising the Queen on the hostile mood in London, but she does not say anything she does not mean.

In the address, she displayed no sign of regret but she delivered two messages in a muted fashion: continuing authority — ‘As your Queen’ — and true sentiment — ‘something I say from the heart’.

On the day of the funeral, Queen Elizabeth did something unusual. When Princess Diana’s coffin passed by, she bowed her head as a mark of respect. She might have done that as a nod to public opinion.

The Queen carefully averted what could have easily turned into a crisis. The following week saw a calmer atmosphere in the capital and a gradual return to normality.

Conclusion

How to Be Queen: 63 Years and Counting concluded that if the next generation of Royals can master Queen Elizabeth’s ten secrets, our monarchy’s future is secure.

Many of us will pray, particularly today, that it is.

The French news site L’Internaute has a fascinating photo collection of Queen Elizabeth showing us how they view her.

Most of the photos were taken last year. Below is my translation of the text, photo by photo. Her life is so instructive that I’ve highlighted significant events and routines:

1/ The incredible Elizabeth II will celebrate her 90th birthday on April 21, 2016. She has seen nine French presidents during her reign and remains very active in spite of her advanced age. The Queen sets the example. Here she is behind the wheel of a Jaguar on July 19, 2015, driving through Windsor Great Park on her way to church. Elizabeth II is the only person in Great Britain who is allowed to drive without a driving licence.

2/ A great traveller with more than 300 state visits to 130 different countries, Elizabeth II has never had a passport, although all British passports bear her name. Although she has reduced her engagements, she still travels regularly. In this photo, taken on June 26, 2015, the Queen was in Berlin for a state visit lasting several days.

3/ The photo was taken on November 2, 2015. At the age of 89, the Queen still rides horses, here around Windsor Castle, along the Thames (Berkshire). The Queen has always been passionate about horseriding and is an excellent horsewoman.

4/ Here during a horse race organised at Windsor in 2013, the Queen follows the progress of her horse First Love under a headscarf that renders her unrecognisable.

5/ Having become the longest reigning British monarch on September 9, 2015, she has been on the throne for 63 years and counting. In this photo taken a few months ago, handbag on her arm, she inspects a battalion of Welsh Guards outside Windsor Castle.

6/ At the Garden Party on June 3, 2014, at Buckingham Palace, the colour-coordinated Queen and her umbrella welcomed a myriad of guests. An event that is routine for her as she receives, on average, 50,000 guests a year at garden parties and dinners.

7/ Linked from the beginning with the world of show business, ‘Lizzie’ [really? must be a French thing?] has always been accustomed to shaking the hands of the most famous people at the time. On December 7, 2009, at the end of the Royal Variety Performance — a charity gala sponsored by the Royal Family since 1912 — she met American singer Lady Gaga, herself an unwavering fan of the monarch.

8/ In spite of her advanced age, Queen Elizabeth continues to give the Queen’s Speech to the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster, although the Prime Minister writes the text. Here in London on May 27, 2015, she announces the government’s legislative projects for the upcoming parliamentary year.

9/ Here Her Majesty examines pieces of the set for Game of Thrones, of which she is a huge fan, during her visit to Titanic Studios in Belfast on June 24, 2014 …

10/ Every Sunday after church (and before lunch), Her Majesty drinks gin with her son and grand-daughters. Could this be the secret to her longevity? In this older photo, she toasts the Duke of Edinburgh to usher in the year 2000.

11/ Every year, rain or shine, and despite the effect of the cold on rheumatism, the Royal Family attends the Highland Games …

12/ And she’s still very happy! The Highland Games present opportunities for plenty of Royal laughs.

13/ Her Majesty and her corgis meet members of the New Zealand All Blacks XV rugby team at Buckingham Palace on November 5, 2002 …

14/ On November 22, 2006, the Queen met members of the Mohican tribe at Southwark Cathedral in London. The monarch was there for the funeral benediction of a Mohican chief who died in London in 1736. At that time, no foreigner who died in the city was allowed to be buried there. The chief was buried in an anonymous plot in the cathedral grounds.

15/ Visiting a factory in 2009, Elizabeth II presses a button to start a brand new cardboard box assembly plant. This was nothing new as the Queen was a mechanic during the Second World War and loves anything mechanical, especially automobiles.

16/ … For the opening of the Olympic Games in London in 2012 a double of Queen Elizabeth made a parachute jump at the stadium in Stratford …

17/ Visiting a Canadian factory in Ontario in July 2010, Elizabeth II discovered the latest functionality of the Blackberry. New technology does not faze the Queen; she sent her first tweet in 2014 (after having officially launched in 1997, the Crown website and been the subject of a hologram portrait earlier this century).

There are several more photos, but I’m running out of time!

However, there is enough material here to give us an idea of the very modern, active person that Queen Elizabeth is. What a great example she is to us all!

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