Elizabeth’s steady hand at monarchy’s helm

With this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee the popularity of the Queen is at an all-time high.

I remember that day. I was eight years old. It was June 2nd 1953, cool, windy, showery. But it was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll. My family had bought our first TV, a little black and white set that we and our neighbours crowded around to watch the fuzzy images of the BBC’s (then) biggest ever live outside broadcast of an event

At just 25 years of age, the Queen had ascended to the throne immediately following the death of her father King George XI on 6 February 1952.  Sixty years on, and this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee is a milestone among many.

At 86, she is the oldest reigning British monarch in over 1,000 years of history, the second longest reigning monarch (after Queen Victoria) and, together with the Commonwealth Realms of which there are 16 countries (including the U.K.), she reigns over 134 million people as Queen while also being Head of the Commonwealth of Nations with its 54 member countries. For someone whose image has been so enduringly steadfast and seemingly unchanging, she has in reality been anything but. Along the way she has mastered a thing or two about branding.

Six decades is a long time to perfect the top job and the world has constantly moved beneath her feet. But she got a head’s up on the lessons of triumph over challenge on her coronation day when word reached London that mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (members of Britain’s 9th expedition to Mount Everest) had reached the summit of the world’s highest mountain.

Queen Elizabeth had a mountain of her own to climb even before the coronation. She never expected to become queen. Her destiny fell suddenly into place with the abdication of King Edward Vlll to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson, not the smartest of moves by any royal standard. But it forced her father to step up to the plate to become King GeorgeV1.

All too soon she was grasping the orb and the sceptre and navigating her way through a world with an endgame that would see the demise of the British Empire, the emergence of the European Union, a burgeoning British middle class through an explosion of immigrants, and a shift in social structures that allowed all scholars onto ivy league campuses rather than just lofty aristocrats.

Then came the disastrous 1990s. In 1992, the 40th anniversary of her accession, the marriages of three of her four children collapsed in messy, public scandals, fire destroyed part of Windsor Castle, and the public was taking a second look at why they were paying for everything royal.

But it was the death of Diana in 1997 that was the wake-up call. The royals’ initial out-of-touch harsh response was a public relations disaster. Shaken, the Queen sought help outside the ‘old guard’ to rebrand the monarchy and face head-on the criticisms of being disconnected with the values of the public.

The monarchy’s reputation had tanked, leaving room in the collective mindset to question their expensive relevancy. They needed to change. Become open, approachable, accountable. Now they have their own website and can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

But the game-changer was Wills and Kate.

Last year’s royal wedding of the Queen’s grandson William to commoner Kate Middleton showed a couple who were open and happy. They had the ‘it’ factor with celebrity status but it has to be tempered with royal responsibilities which they were clearly capable of doing.

With this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee the popularity of the Queen is at an all-time high. Like those one thousand boats on the River Thames, Queen Elizabeth has steered the monarchy into calm waters.

Just Posted

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

CRA scam the email edition targeted the Mounties in Chilliwack

Fraudsters claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency but the CRA never operates this way

COLUMN: Student voices give me hope for the future

Student Caleb Pennington wanted to know why something was taken off the agenda. So he asked.

Chilliwack newcomers celebrate multicultural community

Local Immigration Partnership helping new Canadians and refugees settle into new life

VIDEO: Rubik’s Rumble a hit at Chilliwack middle school

Students fill gymnasium for first annual tournament focusing on popular puzzle toy

VIDEO: Gun enthusiasts fill Chilliwack venue for antique show

Collectors, proud owners and vendors took part in the event that approaches half a century in age

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

B.C. man to plead guilty in connection with hit-and-run that killed teen

Jason Gourlay charged with failure to stop at the scene of accident, attempting to obstruct justice

Most Read