It’s a job that neither of them particularly wanted, but since the age of 25, Queen Elizabeth II has served. In a further gauge of passing time, Prince Charles became heir to the throne aged just three.
On Sunday, it is said, the Queen won’t be celebrating her Accession Day in any great fashion, with the monarch preferring to mark the anniversary at Sandringham in quiet reflection of her father, who died there on February 6, 1952.
There is perhaps more to reflect on this year than most, not least given it’s the first anniversary of her accession without her husband. Then, there is the scandal that Prince Andrew just can’t kill and the self-enforced exile of Prince Harry, with both now stripped of Royal titles.
The Queen has been forced to dig deep to balance private emotion with public duty in 2022, just as she did in 1952 when her inherited title passed to her in a treehouse in Kenya as she slept. Back home, her father died unexpectedly in the night, with the well-told story that Princess Elizabeth went up the ladder to her room that night a princess, and came down the ladder in the morning a Queen.
Grief was promptly cast aside in the name of service and she returned to London immediately, where Prime Minister Winston Churchill waited on the wet tarmac to greet her. It was then straight to Clarence House, where he mother was now the Dowager Queen and the Royal Standard was snapped from the staff to signal the end of her father’s reign. A fairly haunting reception.
The next day, she was dispatched before 200 Privy Councillors to deliver her Accession Declaration: “I pray that God will help me to discharge worthily this heavy task that has been laid on me so early in my life." You can almost hear the words tremble.
Anniversaries have the natural ability to crystallise both the good and the bad as sense is made of passing time, as well as the road that lies ahead. It’s impossible to imagine that even the Queen, in her most private moments, is privileged enough to be spared of that.