The Sapphire Jubilee: 65 Years Ago Today, Elizabeth II Ascended the Throne

Today marks the Blue Sapphire Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, commemorating her 65 years on the throne. Of course, there has never been a Sapphire Jubilee before, with the Queen surpassing the record of 63 years held by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in September 2015. So how will the Queen be celebrating? She won’t be. Instead she will spend the day quietly at Sandringham and neither she nor the Duke of Edinburgh will undertake any public engagements.

Indeed, this is how the Queen usually marks February 6th, which to her is not only the anniversary of ascending the throne, but the day she lost her much-beloved father, George VI. Thus the passage of 65 years is not only a milestone of her own career, but a reminder that its length is due to his premature death. For similar reasons she declined to make hay out of breaking Queen Victoria’s record to avoid the awkwardness of essentially celebrating a relative’s death.

Recently, Netflix debuted “The Crown,” following the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s marriage and reign. The series dramatized the reality of a young wife and mother shedding whatever semblance of domesticity or privacy she had been able to cultivate for the endless duty and isolation of the throne. The heart of that story is well-captured by the series, but today it’s worth examining the real figures and events behind the story.

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The Royal Family and the Power of Disclosure

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Last week, in a post about some of the criticism the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been receiving, I suggested that they “say something.” I said something similar after Kate’s EACH engagement yesterday. That’s pretty vague, so I thought I would expand upon that point.

What the monarchy signifies and how they function is constantly in motion, a statement that perhaps runs counter-intuitively to how they are usually described, which is symbolic of continuity, history and heritage. They are, but how the monarchy embodies that – and carries out its agenda – changes, sometimes almost imperceptibly, with every generation. This has been particularly true for the royal family of the 20th and 21st centuries, which has had to align with and press against the constant presence of the media. Since the dawn of time, monarchies – like any political institution – have been reacting and adapting to popular opinion, but there are few other factors that have had more of an impact on the perception and behavior of a monarchy than the evolution of the modern press and how it disseminates its information.

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