Queen Elizabeth

As a couple, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip move gracefully through events like a royal Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, expertly turning and smiling and making it look so absolutely effortless. He is the strawberry in her champagne and she is Britain's brightest jewel. Wind back the clock to when 13-year-old Elizabeth spoke to her cousin Margaret Rhodes about her visit to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth where she met an 18-year-old cadet by the name of Philip. She told her cousin that he seemed like "a Viking God."

Wind the clock forward to 1952 at Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Despite the post-war severity, there was pomp and ceremony, jewles, anthems and trumpets. No expense was spared. So why could a population that was subjected to food rationing and economic hardship react so amazingly when the hereditary monarch seemed to be wealthy beyond belief? Didn't they feel like they were having their noses rubbed in to how much wealth the monarchy enjoyed?

The answer is no. They loved it. Britain - battered, bruised and almost broken - appeared to be determined to embrace its new monarch and hang the cost. They were happy to accept the cost because in their hearts, they loved tradition. And Elizabeth did not disappoint.

For those who have followed Queen Elizabeth II, it is fascinating to speculate on the degree to which the Queen's 'stiff upper lip' is natural. I think most will argue that one of her strengths and reasons for her enormous success has been her ability to detach and her sense of duty. But why do we look towards the British monarchy with an almost mystic reverence? And at what emotional cost has this been to her and to those she loves?

To uphold her position for such a long time, Elizabeth II must be an extraordinary person. She reigns, rather than rules, with a commitment to serve until her death. But it comes at a huge price. There is never a moment in her life when she is not the Queen, putting her in a rather solitary position. Because of this, she must remain scrupulously neutral in everything - not just about politics but innocuous matter such as songs, television shows and books. Because of this, she has managed to float above politics and controversy.

At the heart of our present are the stories of our past. It's a story of all people, in all places and at all times. It's a story of ruthless kings, favoured queens, warriors, generals, battles and wars. But standing tall above them all are the strong, stable ones who have persevered. The quiet ones. the resilient ones. The irrepressible ones. And at the top of that list stands one woman.

Queen Elizabeth II.

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