Britons reflect on life under Queen Elizabeth II
DERBY, United Kingdom—Queen Elizabeth II will become Britain’s longest-reigning monarch on Wednesday after over 63 years on the throne.
Here, three Britons talk about their very different views of her, and their lives during her reign:
Joan Kell, 89, was born on the same day as the queen—April 21, 1926. She is a retired education inspector and lives in Stoke Mandeville, northwest of London.
“I think after the war there was this tremendous sense of togetherness. Of course, we were happy because we had won it… The royal family was a very acceptable symbol of that feeling of being together as a country.”
“Coronation day was smashing. I was working as a teacher of the visually handicapped and because they couldn’t see very far, they gave us seats right on the curb. It was quite exciting to be able to see the queen that close. There was a sense that we were a nation that had won a war, that it had been a hard fight but that these two people riding past us in the royal golden coach were people that it was worth respecting.”
“I think the queen’s done a jolly good job, actually. Let’s face it, she’s had a lot to put up with, despite her wealth and her position. There has been this steadfast application to the job she’s doing that has made people like her. It’s stopped us having that kind of ‘them and us’ feeling.”
“At our age, you can’t expect to go on all that much longer. I sometimes think: ‘Gosh, she and I have led quite different lives’ but she is worth being associated with. She’s a person who has done a good job and hasn’t, as far as one can see, put a foot wrong.”
Lynne Love, 62, was born on the day of the queen’s coronation—June 2, 1953. She works in a cake shop and lives in Derby, central England.
“My middle name is Elizabeth. Had I been a boy, I was going to be Philip.”
“My friends at school would say: ‘Are you royalty, are you going to marry a prince?’ but I obviously never found one.”
“I think everybody should have a royal family because they are the center, aren’t they? Your politicians, they’re just like workers, whereas the queen and her family, they are the head of the family.”
“The queen didn’t really have a choice—she was thrown in at the deep end after her dad died and she stuck with it. I think if people had to vote for her, they would keep her in because she is good at her job.”
“She’s never ill, is she? If she’s got hearing aids, you don’t see them with the hair and she doesn’t use a walking stick. She still drives. What is she on? Because I’d like some!”
Richard Benjamin, 37, is opposed to the royal family. He works as an employee assistance counselor and lives in Lenzie, northeast of Glasgow.
“I’m someone who just doesn’t understand the point of the monarchy and has quite strong feelings about some of the things that they stand for. I very strongly believe that class prejudice is a huge and very insidious and not very well recognized problem in Britain. I think the royal family are a very powerful symbol and help to sustain that idea that some people are born better than others.”
“How does anyone who doesn’t know her personally know who the queen is or what she stands for? She never really says. I can’t pretend to know the queen. That’s no reason not to question what she stands for.”
“I would want anybody, whoever they are wherever they are, to get access to Buckingham Palace and enjoy it. I wouldn’t want to ruin it or pull it down—maybe some nice accommodation could be provided for people who really need it instead of all those lovely rooms lying empty.”
“I grew up in Cumbernauld, which is a very working-class new town between Glasgow and Edinburgh. I know my parents are not great fans of the monarchy but I’ve never heard them being massively outspoken about them either. My mom would probably chastise me for being as outspoken as I have been.”
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