Curiouser and curiouser: The Sunday Express reported yesterday that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary privately. This will be a marked change of procedure from how they celebrated their prior anniversaries, which all saw a service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. This is particularly notable because it’s just been made clear that the Queen won’t lay a wreath on Remembrance Day this year; instead, she’ll stand next to Prince Philip on the Foreign Office balcony.
The Express notes that the decision “may” be linked to the Duke’s retirement this past August, though they make a bit of an unsubtle point that at the time royal aides reassured the public that the decision wouldn’t have any bearing on the Queen’s performance of royal duties. The article further says:
“The Queen’s personal anniversary milestones, including landmark birthdays, have been celebrated as national events until now but royal sources suggest she has shown a growing desire to mark them privately. Ardent monarchists may argue that after 65 years on the throne and dedicated service to the nation with Philip, she has earned the right to some time off but courtiers have always argued that the monarch needs to be seen.”
I’m not entirely sure I have an opinion on the matter, except to say I’m inclined to fall in the former group: the Queen and Philip have earned the right to celebrate their anniversary any which way they please. What’s interesting, however, is that if this report is true then it’s a break from tradition and that almost always means something when it comes to the Royal Family. This combined with the news that the Queen won’t be laying a wreath would almost have me thinking that Philip is having health problems, though there hasn’t been any indication that he won’t be standing on the balcony in a couple weeks.
What it may mean is simply that the couple are bowing out of ceremonies when they can and when it comes to their anniversary they most certainly can. It’s a bit of a shame – personally I was looking forward to the occasion. I always like the engagements that feature the entire family together and events like the Queen’s birthday, etc. always make for special, historical moments. But again, it’s very much not our (the public’s) decision to make and, yes, I think it’s fair game to mark an anniversary as a private moment if they so choose. A disappointment, but a justified one.