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Editorial: Queen’s reign a remarkable achievement

To take in the enormity and longevity of the Queen’s contribution to Britain, the Commonwealth and the world, it is instructive to reflect on some of the following.

As a young princess she gave her first public address in 1940, aged 14, sending a message to the children of the Commonwealth, particularly those who, like her, had been evacuated as German bombs rained down on London in World War II.

In 1947, with Britain still recovering from the war, she used collected ration coupons to buy material for a dress for her marriage to Philip Mountbatten, who became Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

4th June 1953:  Queen Elizabeth II wearing a gown designed by Norman Hartnell for her Coronation ceremony.  (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
Camera IconQueen Elizabeth II wearing a gown designed by Norman Hartnell for her Coronation ceremony on the 4th June 1953. Credit: Central Press/Getty Images

On February 6, 1952, as she was visiting Kenya, Princess Elizabeth was told of her father’s death and her accession to the throne.

At the age of 25 she flew back to Britain as Queen.

In 1952, Australia’s population was just 8 million, Robert Menzies was prime minister and a man’s average weekly earnings was the equivalent of about $26.

The Queen was crowned on June 2, 1953, in Westminster Abbey, aged just 27.

A four-day round of celebrations is now under way in Britain after the Queen became the first British monarch to commemorate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service — having ruled for longer than any other monarch in British history.

But it is not just the length of her reign that is remarkable.

The Queen has been that constant presence.

A figurehead for Britain and the Commonwealth. A comforting reassurance that all will be well in the end.

For most West Australians, the Queen is the only monarch they have ever known and a rock of stability as we have travelled through times of rapid and challenging social and political change — and, indeed, her own family has endured its own very public personal crises.

The journeys of the Queen’s children have been at times rocky, particularly the disastrous marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and there were dark days after Diana’s death.

More recently, the death of Prince Philip, the family tensions over Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, and the effective banishment in disgrace of Prince Andrew have presented new tests to navigate.

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