The longest reign of any monarch in the history of Britain has come to an end. Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952, at the age of 25, following the death of her father, King George VI.
She may have showed up when Great Britain most needed her.
The war had left the country with much of its wealth, people, and power gone. Its great global empire was melting away. In its wake, it found itself dwarfed by two new super powers, the United States and Russia. The country was struggling to reconcile itself to its new, diminished status.
Its citizens’ standard of living seemed to have barely risen since the 1930s, and their lives lacked many of the modern luxuries that Americans took for granted. Their cars were small, gas was expensive, there was very little air conditioning, and television was limited to a few evening hours’ broadcast on a single channel.
After her father’s death, the country’s attention now shifted to Elizabeth, an attractive and poised young mother whose royal bearing seemed effortless.
In “The World’s Busiest Mother,” British historian and royalty expert Geoffrey Bocca told readers about her heavy work schedule, and her love of horses, racing, yachting, and polo. But he also emphasized that she was a queen of strict schedules, who read the twice-daily box of official dispatches, handled the large household staff, and scheduled her endless public appearances, all while making time to be with her children.
The article’s author was obviously impressed by the young queen: “There are no records of Elizabeth ever saying anything wrong,” he wrote, and quotes one of the queen’s advisors who said, “The Queen is a phenomenon. She has a mind like steel and such a grasp of her job that she can get through her work in half the time the king used to take. I suppose the reason is that the King ascended to the throne unexpectedly in middle age while the Queen has been preparing for this most of her life.”
Another advisor added, “Anyone can be a king. All a king has to do is be a king. But a queen has to be a king, a queen, a mother, a housekeeper, a business woman, a landlord, and a wife.”
“The World’s Busiest Mother” is a bittersweet article that presents us a queen and her family well before the social upheavals of the 1960s, the scandals, and the declining prestige of the royals. But in that distant time, the future looked bright and the young queen enjoyed a popularity that matched that of her great-great grandmother, Victoria, whose long reign Elizabeth exceeded seven years ago.
In the 70 years since the 1952 profile, she became one of the most recognizable heads of state in the modern world, and one of the most admired women, according to a Gallup poll. Known as a strong supporter of charities, the Queen set a number of records for longevity, including being the oldest monarch to ever reign from England, the oldest head of state, and the second longest verified reign of any monarch on the planet (behind only Louis XIV).
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