The Queen at 90: What’s her secret?
‘Queen Elizabeth II’ Week.
I hereby name this week, ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ week!
As we approach the Queen’s official 90th birthday celebrations this weekend, I thought I would mark the special occasion with a week of Queen-related posts. After 90 years and 64 years of service as our monarch, it was the least I could do.
In my first post in the series, I reflect on my own memories of the Queen and consider some of the possible reasons for the Queen’s long and healthy life and what that means for me.
The Queen and I.
There have been many stories about people’s encounters with the Queen and their memories of her. Of course, for most of us she has been a constant in our lives, a marker to many of the occasions we have shared and celebrated over the years.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of the street party we had for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. My sister and I were dressed as Hawaiian Hula Girls…I still haven’t got a clue what Hula girls had to do with the Silver Jubilee!
I’ve seen the Queen a few times. I remember when I was working as a pharmacist in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, the day she visited the town. I knew her route would take her past my pharmacy. As the time drew near I sprinted out of the shop and took up my place across the road. According to the itinerary, her car would be passing on that side as she left Mansfield Railway Station and I wanted to get a clear view of her. I got very excited as I saw the fleet of police motorbikes in the distance, and that excitement built as I spotted the Queen’s car approaching. She was in the car with the huge side windows, the one like the Peppa Pig car but black and ‘posher’,(totally a word!). As her car swept past, I cheered and waved excitedly (or flailed my arms around like a mad woman, if I am being completely honest). Guess what? She waved back! At me! She waved at me personally! I know this because I was the ONLY person standing at the side of the road! You are all probably completely underwhelmed by my revelation…I, however, was grinning for the rest of the day.
The other time I saw the Queen was for the Diamond Jubilee, when she visited Nottingham. I actually took the kids out of school (some schools were closed that day but ours wasn’t and I had them back by lunchtime). We queued in the Nottingham’s Old Market Square from about 6am and got a place near the barriers. This Royal visit was particularly special because William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, would be accompanying her.
The crowds lined either side of the square and we were told that the Royal Party would meet and greet the crowds and work their way towards the Council House before appearing on the balcony. I had bought little folding steps for the kids to stand on so they got a good view…I only wish I had bought a ‘She Wee’ or potty as we were desperate for the loo by the time the Royal Party arrived and Emily was panicking that she wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. This caused me to panic too, as there were no toilets nearby and after waiting for almost five hours we didn’t want to lose our place. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if she had lost the battle to hold on as we’d probably get a better view of ‘Queenie’. Nothing disperses a large crowd more than a child flooding the pavement with five hours worth of retained wee.
When the Royal Party finally arrived, they split up and the Queen walked across to the crowds on the opposite side of the square. Much to our delight, William and Kate chose our side! Even better, as William reached our section of the crowd, Emily shook his royal hand! I even got some photographs and video footage of the special moment. I took a USB stick with the precious video footage into the school when I dropped the girls back after their royal adventure. In hindsight I should have watched it before I gave it to the teacher because when I watched it back later, I realised with utter embarrassment that I was shrieking William’s name like a crazed banshee throughout most of the video footage! *sheepish face*.
The Queen at 90.
Whether you are a ‘royalist’ or not and whether you will be celebrating her 90th birthday or not, the facts and figures of her life and reign are truly remarkable.
I have a huge admiration and respect for the Queen. In fact, I think she’s absolutely marvellous. I realise that some of you may not share my views. Some of you may be vehemently opposed to an unelected monarchy. However, in my opinion, I feel extremely grateful that, elected or not, Elizabeth II has been our Head of State for more than 60 years. She has been a constant through years of uncertainty and trials and tribulations: A safe pair of hands. Anyway, look at what we end up with when we do actually have an election and cast our votes!
As I’ve watched the TV programmes or read news articles over the last few months in the run up to the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, I can’t help but be filled with a renewed sense of wonder at what she has achieved and accomplished during her life to date.
The Queen: Facts and figuresThe Queen has served us all her adult life. Over the 64 years of her reign her sense of duty and service have never wavered or faltered. The facts and figures are astonishing:
- She works a 40 hour week and last year she carried out 306 engagements in the UK and 36 abroad.
- Every day except Christmas Day and Easter Day, as ‘reader number one’, she reads all of the official government papers sent to her in her dispatch box.
- She has given royal assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.
- She is the patron of more than 600 charities and organisations.
- There have been seven Archbishops of Canterbury during the Queen’s reign.
- There have been seven popes during the Queen’s reign.
- Her Majesty has had to attend (or endure!) 37 Royal Variety Performances.
- With the exception of 1955, when the parade was cancelled due to a national rail strike, the Queen has been at every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign.
- During her reign, the Queen has undertaken 82 state visits.
- She’s received over 100 inward state visits since 1952.
- She has broadcast a Christmas message every year since her coronation in 1952, except in 1969.
- Since 1952, the Queen has conferred more than 400,000 honours and awards.
- Twelve prime ministers have been in office during Elizabeth II’s reign: Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Holme, Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
- The Queen and Duke have been married for 68 years.
- The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either overseas for state visits or pregnant.
The secret to her long life and good health
How does she do it? What’s the secret of her long and fruitful life? A recent BBC article* posed this very question when it considered what the Queen’s good health could tell us about longevity.
I read the article with great interest and as I looked through the list of possible reasons for her long and healthy life, I considered what this meant for me.
- Good genes. The Queen has good genes. Her mum lived to be 101. Having parents and grandparents that live long lives means you are more likely to inherit their good genes. I’m not as confident about the good genes business as my grandparents are no longer with us. So, ‘no pressure’, mum and dad!
- Avoiding bad habits. The Queen doesn’t smoke and according to those who know her, her drinking is well within NHS guidelines. The BBC article didn’t mention her attitude to drugs but I find it hard to believe that someone who has her cereal in Tupperware boxes on the breakfast table is a ‘recreational drugs kind of a gal’. Me? I’ve never smoked (I never even dared to try in case I was instantly hooked), I’ve never taken ‘recreational’ drugs but I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine. It’s funny how my alcohol units seem to have crept up since having kids!
- Healthy eating. According to her chef, the Queen is very disciplined, preferring simple meat and veg dishes over processed foods. She also avoids starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta for dinner. Who knew the Queen was a low-carb enthusiast? Well, I like to think I eat a fairly balanced diet. Mind you, I do like bread and potatoes and I love ham, bacon and processed meats…Oh dear!
- Marriage has a protective effect on health, as long as it is a happy one. The Queen and Price Philip have been married for 68 years. Her family and herself have all made reference to the strength of the marriage and the Queen thanked Philip publicly in 2012 for being ‘her constant strength and guide.’ Richard and I have been married for 18 years this year. I always say I would be a lonely old spinster if it wasn’t for him because no one would put up with my quirks and foibles. I mean, I couldn’t be married to me! I would drive myself mad! Amazingly, Richard loves me ‘quirks and all’ and we are very happily married. I can’t imagine my life without him. ‘Hark! Is that the sound of a few years being stitched back on to my life?’
- Staying physically active. The Queen exercises every day by walking her dogs and rides her horses twice a week. She also has seven hours sleep a night. Apparently, if you sleep between 6 and 9 hours a night, you have less chance of premature death. That means Emily knocked a few years off my life when she woke me up at 1am the other morning, having vomited on every bit of her bedding during the night.
- Coping with stress. Stress can take years of your life, but apparently the Queen is so conditioned against it after all of her years that she doesn’t get stressed, especially when it’s things beyond her control. See, that’s where me and the Queen differ. I like to be in control and I get stressed when I’m not in control. I also get stressed about things that are beyond my control: even when I know it’s completely pointless! Richard is much more like the Queen. He is steady as a rock. He keeps things in perspective and doesn’t get stressed about things he can’t control. I probably stress enough for both of us!
- Keeping mentally alert. Keeping mentally alert has been shown to slow the rate of mental decline. The Queen certainly does keep her mind occupied with affairs of state, the commonwealth, her engagements as well as writing speeches, corresponding and reading the government papers she receives in her dispatch box every day. Thankfully, learning how to build and write a blog and get to grips with social media has kept me on my toes for the last five months and will do for the next few years…Or as long as people want to read it.
- Charity. Caring for others and doing voluntary work can help you feel positive about yourself and give you purpose in life. It has been shown to reduce the chance of early mortality and reduce depression. The Queen is patron to more than 600 charities so she certainly ticks this particular box. It’s good news for me too because it seems that as well as loving my role as a volunteer Debt Adviser at Cornerstone Money Advice Centre, it may be adding a few years to my life.
- Faith. Religious belief has been linked to a longer life. Some think this is because of the community and support network that comes with having a faith or being more positive about life and death. The Queen is a committed Christian and not just in the ‘being born in a Christian country’ sense. She truly believes in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and the promise of eternal life through him.
This last point is one where the Queen and I are completely aligned. I’m a committed Christian, having come to faith at University. So, even though there are things that can influence our life and our health, at the end of the day we don’t know how long or how short our lives will be. However, as a Christian, I believe that death will not be the end for me…It will be the beginning.
‘For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16
Over to you
Have you got any special memories of the Queen? What are your thoughts about the Queen’s life and service as we approach her 90th birthday? What do you think about the reasons given for her long and healthy life? Do you agree with them?
As always, I value your opinions and look forward to hearing your views.
Coming soon: Book review & giveaway.
Later this week I will be reviewing the book,’The Servant Queen and the King She serves.’ Published by the Bible Society, this tribute for her Majesty’s 90th Birthday addresses how the Queen’s Christian faith has guided and influenced her during her life and service to our country.
In the foreword, her Majesty the Queen writes:
I have been – and remain – very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love. I have indeed seen his faithfulness. – Elizabeth R.
There will also be the chance to win your own copy of the book.
*The full BBC article, ‘Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday 2016: What can we learn about long life?‘ can be found here.
A little message from me!
If you like this post, please don’t forget to share it on social media. ‘Sharing is caring!’
You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram using the social media buttons on the top of this page for updates between posts.
If you are enjoying my blog, it would be marvellous if you could support it by signing up to my email feed (see the subscribe box in the sidebar on the right on a computer or below on a tablet or smart phone) so you don’t miss a single post.