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Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee: Time to Take a Look Back

Authored By: 
Gabriella Skwara, history teacher

As a World History teacher at The Beekman School, I love introducing students to British History and the colorful rulers that people its pages. In part, my fascination stems from the way in which tradition and novelty are continually interwoven within the traditions of the British monarchy. We got to witness a glimpse of this as the United Kingdom celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee during a four-day bank holiday weekend that began this past Thursday. Elizabeth II has now reigned for 70 years, and as such is “the Queen” whom the world immediately equates with Britain.

In many ways, the verses that the poet Philip Larkin penned on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee in 1977 ring more true than ever:

In times when nothing stood
But worsened, or grew strange,
There was one constant good:
She did not change.

While the Queen’s health kept her from fully participating in the events surrounding the weekend, she was the same universally recognizable woman when she appeared on the balcony in her bright, matching coat and hat for Thursday’s Trooping the Colour. The annual parade was particularly fabulous this year, as it celebrated Elizabeth’s record 70 years of queenship.

Elizabeth II became queen regnant at age 25 in February, 1952. At the time, Winston Churchill announced the beginnings of a “new Elizabethan Era.” Coincidentally, the first Elizabeth also ascended to the throne at 25 and went on to prove that she had “the heart and stomach of a king,” despite occupying the body of “a weak and feeble woman.” England achieved a golden age under her reign, and Elizabeth I is still one of the country’s greatest and most famous rulers (if not the most famous).

Although Elizabeth II has ruled through the period in which the British empire faded into history, she nonetheless remains a similar icon in the world’s eyes. Queen Elizabeth II continues not to change in these increasingly strange times, thus representing a comforting continuity between past and present. Over the past 70 years, Elizabeth II has in fact come to embody her namesake’s motto in addition to her age of accession: “Semper eadem” or “always the same.”

What to know and how to watch the celebrations from the U.S.: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna30668