Being The Queen: a job for life 117



View Profile

In the weeks leading up to Christmas and the traditional Queen’s Christmas Message there was an outbreak of idle, silly speculation that Queen Elizabeth II would use that message to announce her abdication in favour of Prince Charles. British bookmakers were taking bets at remarkably short odds.

It got to the stage that Buckingham Palace was forced to issue a denial pointing out, “If the Queen was going to make a major announcement she wouldn’t do it in a pre-recorded speech that is shown in the South Pacific Commonwealth several hours before it is shown here”. Given that Australia is a half day ahead of the UK, the speculation was nonsense.

On September 9, Queen Elizabeth II will surpass her great great grandmother Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 217 days and will become the longest serving British monarch ever. She became Queen on the death of her father on February 6, 1952, while Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901.

On April 21, the Queen turns 89 (Prince Philip is 93) but she could still have several years ahead of her – her mother, the Queen Mother, lived to be 101 although her father, King George VI died aged only 56, worn out by the stress of his sudden elevation upon the abdication of his brother Edward VII in 1936, World War II and his heavy smoking. Queen Elizabeth has been very careful with her health and shows no real signs of slowing down.

She was only 10 when her uncle King Edward abdicated to marry an American divorcee and she saw all too closely how her father, the nervous, shy and unprepared George VI laboured to fulfil his duties.

On her 21st birthday in 1947, she announced, “I dedicate before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong” and, rather pointedly, in 2012 during her diamond jubilee publicly “rededicated” herself to the job for life.

Royal trivia can be fascinating: Queen Elizabeth is the 32nd great granddaughter of King Alfred, considered to be the first effective King of England and who ruled from 871 to 899 and, if her uncle King Edward had not abdicated, she would have become Queen in any case, but in 1972 when Edward died childless. However, she is not the longest serving monarch – King Rama IX of Thailand who came to the throne in 1946 has that distinction.

Both the Queen and Prince Philip are both great great grandchildren of Queen Victoria – the Queen is a direct descendent of her eldest son King Edward VII and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is a direct descendent of Victoria’s daughter, Princess Alice. The name of the Royal House is Windsor which was changed from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (the original German name) in 1917 at the height of World War I when anti-German sentiment was at its height.

Already Prince Charles (born 14 November 1948) is the longest serving as heir apparent and even if his mother died tomorrow he would be the oldest person ever to become monarch. King William IV was 64 when he became King in 1830 while Edward VII was 59 when his mother Queen Victoria died. Prince Charles can decide his own name as King – it could be Charles III although there is speculation that he could style himself as King George VII after his grandfather. The Queen could not abdicate and pass Charles over in favour of his eldest son, Prince William.

When Charles and Camilla married in 2005, she was given the title of Duchess of Cornwall because of the sensitivity following the death of Diana. Camilla is also Princess Consort and will eventually become Queen Consort when Charles comes to the throne. Camilla’s great grandmother Alice Keppel was the mistress of Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales.

During her reign so far, the Queen has seen 13 Australian Prime Ministers (counting Rudd only once), 12 British Prime Ministers and 12 US Presidents.

The current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is her 5th cousin, twice removed. He is the great, great, great grandson of Elizabeth Fitzclarence, an illegitimate daughter of William IV and his mistress, Irish actress Dorothea Bland. King William had 10 children by his mistress but when he died leaving no legitimate children, the throne went to his niece and Victoria became Queen.

And my final bit of trivia: Although she was popularly known as “Princess Diana”, this was not her actual title – she became a Princess by marrying Charles and her title was Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales or, more simply, Diana, Princess of Wales.


Are you interested in the monarchy? Would you like Prince Charles to become King? Or do you think it is time that we became a republic? Tell us below.

Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. I give up, can only read part of that no matter where I tap. I’m one of those strange people who don’t believe one human being is better than any other, so not a fan of the concept of Royalty. Don’t know why the big fuss about the Uncles abdication that the Royals make either. They murdered each other at a shocking rate in history, (just to get themselves on the throne) changing the lineage like musical chairs.

    5 REPLY
  2. Don’t know anyone who would voluntarily do her job – it’s just about a 24/7 job, and how she manages to meet so many people with a smile is beyond me. Just imagine wanting to rest up for the day, then realising you have 50 people coming to ‘dinner’ – ok, she doesn’t have to cook the food but she does check that everything looks ok and is all organised perfectly for all the guests! Sheesh, she can keep that job – oh, and she has Philip to look after (well he can be a loose cannon he he)!

    2 REPLY
  3. Totally agree Linda, see them as useless parasites. Can’t believe how the English bow to them after all the horrors they have inflicted on their ancestors.

    11 REPLY
    • Probably but they cost a lot too. Every time one of them falls off their perch, gets married, goes outside, all costs. Just dint believe royalty should exist today.

    • Well I hope I dont get judged by what my ancestors did? Yes, Britain relies on Royalty for the huge tourism business they generate, they do earn every penny of it really.

    • Yes they do bring in the pounds, but it is just the snobbery of the whole royalty thing that gets on my goat and they really are parasites. But I’m glad that they make many people happy.

    • You think presidents aren’t snobs? You think Jackie Kennedy who was bred and educated to be a rich mans wife, would give you the time of day?

    • I wasn’t talking about them, wasn’t relevant to the topic. My mum loved the royals, a pleasant little interest as I am sure many also find this to be the case. That’s good, personally couldn’t care less if they all dropped off the planet.

    • My Mum made me sit up at night with her and listen to Princess Margaret’s wedding. I was pleased that Princess Margaret died two months after Mum. So Mum wasn’t upset at her passing. What an unhappy life she had just because of British protocol.
      I care if they drop off the planet because their replacements would be infinitely worse.

    • My partner cracked it big time when Diana’s funeral was put on telly instead of the football final. I fell asleep but woke up in time to hear Tony Blair speaking which made my night as I love his voice. I have him on you tube and listen sometimes. Ha.

    • Angie Jones: I agree with both your points. Two of my ancestors were beheaded for treason!! Fortunately way back in the 1500s! And the Royal Family brings in millions of pounds/dollars for the British economy. In most cases they pay a lot of their own expenses – for example, when one of the Queen’s castles was almost burnt down she paid everything to have it restored. They all get “salaries” and pay their ways from those. Special events do come out of the public pocket.

    • I get so upset when ‘the English’ get blamed for so many horrors in our history. It was the rich greedy aristocrats who orchestrated the horrors and not many suffered as badly as the English serfs, for thousands of years.

      1 REPLY
      • Yes Linda I believe they do help the british economy . My late husband was English and I’m Scottish so he tolerated the royals. I’m interested in than because I’m passionate about history. I do believe that in the past the aristocracy lived of the back of the peasants. They are still doing this when you have to pay entry fees into their castles and manor houses. However I don’t think the queen will abdicate any time soon.

    • I think though Linda that most people realise it was the rich and powerful, being of course royalty that did all of that which was horrid. The lower classes merely survived as best they could. Eventually those above saw they needed these classes to fight in wars and supply them with riches. Thus they became friendlier parasites!

  4. Charles will be king wether i want him to be or not as fir being a republic i personally think it an excellent idea but i feel the general population is 2 to 1 against it.

    3 REPLY
    • I’d rather have our Monarch, God Bless her, than Joe Blow down the road witha meat pie in his hand who has managed to gather millions of dollars by hook or by crook for a measly 6 year run as a President. She is there, always has been, and has dedicated her life to us. Ok she’ very wealthy, her history leaves a bit to be desired, wish my ancestors had been as clever etc., then I would have been born with a silver spoon, not a plastic one. Seriously, just having a bit of fun here, but a PRESIDENT, no thanks.

    • Definitely against a republic.
      We have a wonderful constitution and even though successive govts and the power hungry and greedy judiciary have tried very successfully it seems to hide it, and unlawfully, illegally and covertly have managed to change and bastardise it, the constitution is still there, binding and legal.
      It was stopped from being taught in schools in 1975. Why? Knowledge is power.
      A republic can damage this country and our sovereign rights as human beings irreparably.

  5. I was under the impression that as the Queen is the head of the Church of England Church that you could not be a divorcee to take that position so that would mean Charles would not be able to take the throne. His great uncle had to abdicate because he married a divorcee so how can Charles be the next as he is a divorcee and married to a divorcee or have they softened to rules over there to allow this to occur.

    1 REPLY
    • Times change and our Monarchy is changing with it. Her Majesty is head of the Church of England, due mainly to Henry V111 and his manipulations of the Church of Rome to suit his needs. History again,we cannot change it.
      Prince Charles will be king, his wife Camilla won’t hold the title even of Queen Consort I don’t think, but I’m not sure. He’s waited a long time and there is more to this man than meets the eye, just wait and see. And what an act to follow he has.

      1 REPLY
      • I am a royalist and proud of my British ancestry. I also like Charles. The poor man gets so many nasty comments made against him that he doesn’t deserve. Marrying Diana (who I did like immensely) was forced on him and I’m glad he is happy now but he has two wonderful sons from that marriage. I really do think the Queen should allow Charles to take over. She would still serve the Commonwealth if she did but he would at least have some time as king before he gets old!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *