The Queen and Me

The Queen succeeded to the throne, a whole month before I was born, so I too am celebrating my Platinum year, this year. She is the longest reigning monarch of all time and I’m the longest reigning Lis McDermott!

My name, Lisbeth, was not popular or known in the UK, but somehow my parents decided on it. I doubt they were thinking about the Queen’s nickname, Lilibet, but it has caused me almost as much trouble, as if they had chosen that name.

I recently watched the BBC documentary, ‘The Unseen Queen’. It is a fascinating look into the Royal family life, as captured on home movies, particularly of her younger life.  The films shown lift the veil on a family that appeared to have as much fun together as many other families – the only difference being, the grand backdrop of their large estates and gardens.

She also shares some of the letters she wrote to her grandmother, Queen Mary. Nowadays, the language sounds so old-fashioned, but you can still see the care of a young girl writing to her grandmother.

The Queen narrates the film, telling her own story and that of her sister, Princess Margaret, and other family members.  The strongest thing that came out of the programme for me was how much the Queen loved her father, King George Vl­. There are wonderful scenes of him playing with the two princesses, running around the garden with them crawling on the floor.

We see the Queen as a baby, with her parents, as a toddler, with Princess Margaret, and what I found interesting is how the two girls were always dressed in matching outfits, as people often do with twins. We see them in the Scottish Highlands with their father striding through the heather, and then the whole family out riding their horses.  And of course, playing with the many family dogs – including the corgis.

Apart from the fact that the royals were and still are very privileged in their lives they live, and most of us would never experience those things, I still found the program incredibly moving. 

From a young age, the Queen understood what her role in life would be, as part of the royal family. She knew she would be Queen one day, but had not expected to be so young when it happened.

The Queen’s father died when she was twenty-five. My own father died a week before my nineteenth birthday, and I think watching the film and hearing the Queen talk about her father resonated with me, and is most likely why I found it so moving.

What is very different in my life is that I have been able to choose what I have done in my seventy years. I chose who I married, which career paths I wanted to follow and all without being under a microscope.

The Royal family are continually under scrutiny from their subjects, who usually are not ambiguous about their feelings towards the family.  The family have also had their share of sadness and family upsets, that would normally remain behind closed doors.

I’m not a Royalist, but I do recognise the amount of her own life, our Queen has given up during the years she has been Queen.  She didn’t choose, to be in that role, it was just part of the family business and she had to take it on when thrust upon her when her father died.

I do think that the royal family as a business needs to modernise, however, as a woman in her own right, I believe the Queen deserves to be celebrated this year.

Despite all of these problems she has had to face, the Queen continues to have dignity and grace. During her appearance at The Platinum Jubilee Horse show, you could see her delight and enjoyment, and it was wonderful to see her smile. In those smiles, you can still see the character of the happy young girl who appears in the film alongside her father.

Happy Platinum Jubilee to Queen Elizabeth ll.