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.
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I am a bit of a royalist! I love the Queen and when you think that she has spent the whole of her adult life in the throne – amazing! When I was a child I met Prince Charles and Diana – Princess of Wales. We were all dispatched to the hospital from primary school where she was coming to open a new ward. We all thought it was amazing, mainly because we were missing our lessons – haha. Oldest has met Sophie Wessex as she came to visit the Island’s Rainbows, she has also met Prince Edward and Princess Anne who came to visit Jersey Dairy and Durrell Zoo. I think she was a little unimpressed by the last two, I think she likes more bling from her royals! #TwinkleTuesday
Likes more bling from her royals! Love it! Thanks for sharing your ‘royalty and me’ recollections too, Emma!
Yes Jane the Queen is wonderful and has a great supportive family and the ‘Firm’ around her – add always having to look your best in public even when you don’t feel like it, smiling and shaking hands with all and sundry especially meeting with prime ministers and having to listen to their constant drivel.
On the plus side
no washing dishes, preparing food , ironing , cleaning, hoovering, making beds, shopping etc etc what a life she has had. Would I swap – not in a million years
It’s a double edged sword, this monarchy business, isn’t it?!
Happy Birthday Maam! It’s amazing that she is still working a 40 hour week at the age of 90 isn’t it?! How exciting that you have met/seen her in person! I would be telling everyone this all the time if I were you (you’re probably not as sad as me though!) I met Jonny Depp once and I’ve never shut up about it since – see I’m still going on…
I think that is a beautiful picture of the Queen Mother too – fab post Jane. Thanks for sharing with us on #fortheloveofBLOG! Join us again next week? x
I’m typing this comment while watching the birthday Trooping of the Colour, which I guess tells you a bit about where I’m at. Was lucky enough to be in London for the silver jubilee and watched the flotilla. It’s nice to keep traditions alive in this country.
I just hope I can be so active when I get to 90 – certainly something to aim for! #fortheloveofBLOG
Ah! I’ve just watched some of the Trooping of the Colour today too. The Queen is certainly trooping around in some colour – Check out the Kermit Green outfit! Yes, I really hope I’m doing as well as she is at 90. Thanks for stopping by, Becci.
Oh I am a huge Queen fan too and I love the photo you chose to feature in this post – yellow being my favourite colour (or should I say Lemon?!) She really is the most amazing head of state and I feel that William and Kate have also brought out a softer side to her. You are so lucky to have seen her and William and Kate – I’d love to have done. Love your take on the comparison between you and the Queen – I think they are a good list of things to live by – I’m not sure I compare well to them to be honest so there may be a need for some changes in my life! Thank you for a great read #fortheloveofBLOG
Thanks for your lovely comments, Helen.
Love this, an incredible lady x #forthloveofblog x
Awww, i love the royal family. Particularly Will and Harry. Will is two years older than me, and his birthday is In June like mine so i feel like i’ve watched him grow up as I have. #KCACOLS
Yay, another fan! Thanks for stopping by, Becky!
Great post, especially about you shrieking at William, brilliant! I love the Queen and would love to copy her lifestyle but I don’t want to work a 40 hour week when I’m 90!! #KCAKOLS
Ha! Yes, how embarrassing! Ho hum!
Oh wow this was such an interesting read. I am always interested in the knowing more about the royals #KCACOLS
Aw, thanks so much. I’m glad you liked it!
The Royal family are just lovely, aren’t they? It sounds like you have had some wonderful opportunities being able to meet/see them. Not to mention the fantastic memories you’ve gained too.xx #KCACOLS
I remember the Queen coming to the Isle of Wight in the 80’s, and I was waving my little plastic flag like a nutter and some horrible old woman grabbed it off me and broke it!! Huh!! I vaguely remember seeing the Queen giving a speech in the distance as well 🙂 #KCACOLS
I wrote a letter to the Queen when I was a child. I can’t remember what I said in it (probably “you are the Queen and are great”),I was ever so excited when I received a reply from Buckingham Palace thanking me for my letter. It was signed by one of her ladies in waiting, but I was still really chuffed, I still have the letter. I think we are lucky to have a monarch like her.
Ahhh so lovely to read a post in honour of The Queen’s birthday! I am a huge royalist, I love them all – far too much! I get so excited to even see them on TV, they’re just fabulous. I envy you having been up and close personal, I’ve never seen them in the flesh!! #KCACOLS xx
It was amazing to see them in ‘real life’. So special for the kids to share that experience too.
Love this! I’m Canadian and a big fan of the royal family. Happy birthday Queen Elizabeth! #kcacols
Hello Nicole! Yay another royal fan. Thanks for stopping by.
Totally with you on this one. I feel privileged that we have a monarchy. I too remember the street party in 1977 but more vividly I remember The Royal Wedding of Kate & William and the excitement that brought for my daughter and little girls around the country. Living in London meant that we were lucky to be there at the Mall and had a top spot to boot. We do try and go along to events in London whenever we can. Recent street parties for these events have shown a wonderful community spirit that we have been lucky to be a part of. Long may it continue. Thank you for sharing this with us at #KCACOLS and we hope you can come back again next Sunday. Nicky x
What a lovely comment, Nicky. I love getting a bit of insight into other people’s lives and memories and I’m glad you feel the same way about the monarchy. We haven’t had a street party for years…since 1977! We do get all of the neighbours round for mulled wine and mince pies at CHristmas time though!
What a fab post! I (unsurprisingly) am a massive fan of Her Maj. My claim to fame is that my grandmother taught the Queen to drive (an ambulance during the war) and I am very proud to say I went to a garden party about 6 years ago with my family at Buckingham Palace and met her and Prince Philip. The Cambridges, of course, I find rather fascinating and I think the Queen has done so brilliantly to keep humour, patience and integrity throughout the decades. I really hope that soon she gets to have a nice rest! #fortheloveofBLOG
Polly! You’ve trumped me with Her Maj Memories!Rellies who taught her to drive and meeting them at a Garden Party is fabulous. I failed in my Queenie General Knowledge at the weekend when I was asked what year the QUeen passed her driving test…The answer is, she NEVER passed her test! SHe is the only person in the country who doesn’t need a driving license and she doesn’t have to have a passport…Which is a shame because I would have loved to have seen her in one of those little Photo machines in Asda! Thanks for stopping by.
I’m not 100% in favour of a royal family tbh, but do like our royal family, if that makes sense! The younger generation are certainly making changes, and the Queen is an impressive lady. Such a lovely smile! #kcacols
Thanks for stopping by, Beth!
Funny enough we were having a conversation at work about how well she looks for 90 and what her secret may be!! I love all the facts, I’ll be grateful to be on my own two feet at 90 let alone doing 40 hours a week and all the rest of it. Truly a remarkable woman x #KCACOLS
I love the queen, I personally think she is amazing for still doing what she is doing at her age. I have no stories or anecdotes and the closest I got was being in Liverpool shopping when Kate was there, possibly her hen night not sure though? #kcacols
Ha Ha! Love the ‘in the same city as a royal’ claim to fame.
Interesting post – the queen works more hours than I do! #kcacols
Ah what lovely memories and stories you have! I’m kicking myself, I could have seen her in Cardiff last week if I’d have been better organised! I saw Prince Charles a couple of summers ago in Cardiff bay when we had a warship in town, would love to see Kate and Wills! Xx #KCACOLS
It was an awesome experience…Despite the risk of us all wetting ourselves whilst waiting for them to turn up!
I think the Queen is amazing. I love reading about her normal life and realising that she will do ‘normal’ things like you or I. I’ve never met her in the flesh but at the weekend my daughter asked if I could take her to London to see the Queen as it was her birthday. 🙂 I think we will take a trip up to see Buckingham Palace over the summer. Lovely post! #KCACOLS
Aw thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. London is such a fabulous city and visiting Buckingham Palace is a great idea. Whilst we were in Northumberland we drove up to Edinburgh to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. That is an amazing experience if you ever get the chance. So much to explore on board, lots of insight into her life and lots of photographs and a fully interactive audio tour.
Great post! I hope I look even half as good as the Queen does at 90! #KCACOLS