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.