For the letter 'Q' I have chosen the Queen. Like Marmite, she seems to be a figure either adored or despised by the rest of the world. Most British people have more neutral feelings towards her. We celebrate the monarchy on occasions like royal weddings and jubilees as it's a good excuse to have a party and we secretly enjoy all the pomp and ceremony. We also appreciate the tourism they bring to the country and the younger members of the royal family have become celebrities, but there's a general consensus that they 'don't really do a lot'.
One of my favourite British comedians, Alan Davies, sums up our attitude towards the Queen quite well, in my opinion:
Facts About Queen Elizabeth II
- The Queen's full name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.
- It's her birthday on Monday (21st April). She was born in 1926.
- Her close family called her 'Lilibet' when she was a girl.
- She was not expected to become Queen at all, as her uncle Edward, the Prince of Wales was expected to marry and have children who would succeed him. But he abdicated from the throne and her father became King. If her parents had later had a son, she would have lost her position as first-in-line to the throne.
- Her coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised.
- Her 62 year reign is currently the second longest for a British monarch. She celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Her great-grandmother Queen Victoria reigned for over 63 years.
- She's the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states (the Commonwealth realms) and head of the 53 members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
- The Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and in some of her realms is the Defender of the Faith. She is also the patron of over 600 organisations and charities.
- During the Second World War she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She trained as a driver and mechanic. On VE day she and her sister Margaret mingled anonymously with the crowds on the streets of London to celebrate.
- The Queen said she fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark after a meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth when she was only 13 years old. She eventually married him in 1947 at Westminster Abbey. They received 2500 wedding gifts from around the world. Elizabeth needed ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding dress.
- The Queen and Prince Philip are second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark and third cousins through Queen Victoria! They now have four children (Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward).
- Elizabeth's coronation gown was embroidered with floral emblems of the Commonwealth countries-English Tudor rose, Scots thistle, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Australian wattle, Canadian maple leaf, New Zealand silver fern, South African protea, lotus flowers for India and Ceylon and Pakistan's wheat, cotton and jute.
- The Queen has faced several scary incidents including being shot at from close range while she rode her horse down The Mall and having an intruder enter her bedroom while she was sleeping.
- The Queen has been paying income tax since 1993. In 2010, Forbes magazine estimated her net worth to be around $450 million, but official Buckingham Palace statements in 1993 called estimates of £100 million 'grossly overstated'.
- She is the first head of state to have opened two Olympic Games in two different countries (London 2012 and Montreal 1976). In the London Olympics opening ceremony she played herself in a short film alongside Daniel Craig as James Bond and recieved an honorary BAFTA!
|Elizabeth II greets NASA employees, 2007|
[Public Domain Image. Source.]
"Like all best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements."
"I have behind me not only the splendid traditions and the annals of more than a thousand years but the living strength and majesty of the Commonwealth and Empire; of societies old and new; of lands and races different in history and origins but all, by God's Will, united in spirit and in aim."
"My husband has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim."
"To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all."
"I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else - I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations."
What do you think of the Queen?