6. 60 years on
When she came to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II was 25 years old, a Royal Navy officer’s wife, with two young children and limited knowledge of the world. Today she is probably the most experienced of all world leaders, respected around the world.
No wonder. Prime ministers come and go – the Queen has worked with a dozen, from Winston Churchill (born 1874) to David Cameron (born 1966). Leaders, especially Commonwealth leaders, know that in the Queen, they have a knowledgeable, permanent head of state, one who will not be blown hither and thither by the winds of political expediency.
At home, even those with doubts about the monarchy in general admit that the Queen is worthy of respect and admiration. Her dignity, honesty and integrity are beyond question. Recent polls in Britain have shown that support for the Queen is as strong as ever, while referendums in Australia (1999) Tuvalu (2008) and St Vincent and the Grenadines (2009) voted in favour of keeping the monarchy.
In a culture of shallow celebrity, her values, tastes and standards remain as steadfast, if unfashionable, as ever.