I first encountered the monarchy through the poems of A A Milne. ‘They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace’, said my mother; and the King was ‘much too busy a-signing things’ to be seen in public. Later on – and the solemnity seemed greater since I was ill in bed – came the radio announcement of the King’s death. But the next year, most of the people in our street gathered in front of a tiny, flickering tv screen to watch the Coronation. What a day that was! A new era, a new monarch – and the conquest of Everest! And ever since, Queen Elizabeth has been part of all our lives. But I don’t think she’s had a finer hour than her address to the nation yesterday.
There on the desk was a picture of her late Father, George VI. And at the other end, a khaki ATS cap – the one the then Princess had worn during her Army service in the War. It was seventy-five years exactly since she and her sister had slipped incognito out of Buckingham Palace to share the revelry of the VE day streets. And though Her Majesty refrained from using specifically religious language, her speech was full of her own faith as a loyal and determined Christian. Our streets, she said, were ‘not empty, but full of the love and care we have for each other.’ Here was our monarch exemplifying faith, hope and love.