...Newspapers on both the political right and left are running gushing tributes. British cities great and small are being festooned with Union Jacks for more than 10,000 street parties (about double the number held for last year’s royal wedding). Merchandisers are minting everything from diamond jubilee retro lingerie to vintage champagne. Andrew Lloyd Webber penned a song. Two national holidays have been declared.Read the rest here.
It is all in honor of a woman who at birth was a long shot for the throne. The daughter of George VI, who became king only after the abdication of his brother to marry a divorced American socialite, the queen was coronated on June 2, 1953. The powers of the monarchy long ago reined in, she would watch from the gilded sidelines as the sun well and truly set on the greatest empire of its day, with the 1997 return of Hong Kong completing the passage of Britain’s glory days.
Yet, through it all, and with her husband and consort, Prince Philip, by her side, she would nevertheless stand as a regal symbol of state from the first icicles of the Cold War to the first moon landing, from the birth of the Beatles to the death of Amy Winehouse, from the once constant threat of Irish republican terrorism to the bombing of the London subway by homegrown Islamic extremists.
“We look across the pond and we see America tearing itself apart over politics and over here, we’re thinking, there’s a lot to be said for a constitutional monarchy,” royal biographer Robert Lacey said. “We are recognizing the queen more and more as the independent national figure that unites all of us, and the one constant in our lives for the past 60 years.”