Happy Diamond Jubilee!
01 June 2012
This Jubilee weekend will be quite an occasion. Few monarchs ever reach such a milestone and we are lucky to be able to say that we have seen a Diamond Jubilee in our lifetime.
The Queen has become such an ever-present fixture of our national life that she is now synonymous with the very institution of the monarchy. About 85% of the population is under the age of 65, which means that the vast majority of people in this country have never known any other monarch. She has come to symbolise everything that people love about the monarchy to the extent that it is hard to imagine one without the other.
Her popularity is soaring, too. While Prime Ministers’ ratings follow a pretty uniform downhill curve the longer they stay in place, the Queen’s only gets better with age. A recent poll showed 69% of respondents saying Britain would be worse off without the monarchy, the highest margin since the mid 90s.
I can attest to her continuing influence around the world. Through my role as Minister for International Development I have responsibility for Britain’s Overseas Territories. From Saint Helena to the Pitcairn Islands, Montserrat to the Turks and Caicos Islands, I have seen how the Queen is still loved and revered. It must say something too that so many countries that long ago celebrated their independence still retain our monarch as Head of State through the Commonwealth. Again, this appeal has as much, if not more, to do with the Queen herself than the institution.
We have been lucky with Royal visits ourselves over recent years. Leicester was the starting point for the Jubilee tour and provided a fantastic atmosphere to kick off the celebrations. Melton welcomed HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall last January too. I myself have been fortunate enough to meet the Queen at regular intervals at Privy Council meetings and her professionalism and dedication never ceases to impress.
The Queen has guided the monarchy and the country faultlessly over six decades and a lifetime of service well deserves the raising of glasses in tribute this weekend. God Save the Queen!
This article was printed in the Melton Times on Friday 1st June 2012.