It is 60 years to the day since she learned her beloved father, George VI, had died suddenly.
In a heartbeat the strong, dutiful – but still unbelievably young – woman of 25 was thrust on to the world stage.
Now aged 85, the Queen is a proud grandmother eight times over, with one great-grandchild and another on the way.Today, however, she makes clear that thoughts of retirement are far from her mind as she formally rededicates herself to her nation.
In a statement to mark the start of her diamond jubilee year, the Queen – only the second monarch after her great great grandmother Queen Victoria to celebrate 60 years on the British throne – vows once again to serve her people for the rest of her life.Her message is interesting because, unlike addresses issued to mark her silver and golden jubilees, the Queen takes the opportunity to rededicate herself to her people, scotching rumours that she might abdicate in favour of her son and heir, Prince Charles.
She also hopes the dozens of planned commemorative events do more than just celebrate her milestone but remind us in times of economic crisis and social breakdown of the importance of family, friends and ‘good neighbourliness’.
In the statement, issued by Buckingham Palace, she says she and Prince Philip have been ‘deeply moved to receive so many kind messages about the diamond jubilee’.
She continues: ‘In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness.
‘I hope also that this jubilee year will be a time to give thanks for the great advances that have been made since 1952 and to look forward to the future with clear head and warm heart as we join together in our celebrations.’On the eve of today’s commemorations, the Queen and Philip yesterday attended a service at the church on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
Today, unusually, she will spend the anniversary of her accession in public, conducting a series of engagements close to Sandringham, after a private mass at which she will remember the gentle father she idolised.
First she will visit King’s Lynn town hall before travelling to Dersingham Infant and Nursery School where she will watch a play about her 60 years as sovereign performed by the children.
A new picture of the Queen and Philip has also been issued to celebrate her milestone.Taken at Buckingham Palace in December by photographer John Swannell, it shows the Queen in a dress of white silk, satin and lace with the 1820 state diadem on her head, while Philip wears the Royal Navy ceremonial day dress of an Admiral of the Fleet with his Garter sash.
Former prime minister Sir John Major yesterday dismissed any suggestion that the Queen would ever relinquish the throne early or that Prince William would be the next king.
‘The Queen took an oath at the coronation that she would remain as Queen for the rest of her life,’ he said. ‘When, hopefully many years hence, the Queen is no longer with us, Prince Charles will become king.
‘After Prince Charles will come Prince William. That is, I think, a matter that is beyond doubt.’
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