Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating an unprecedented anniversary with her Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years on the throne. The Queen is the first British monarch to ever celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, which featured a nationwide commemoration of her long reign in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations. The festivities were inevitably mingled with questions about the past and future of the monarchy amid its current controversies.
Queen celebrating 70 years on throne
The Platinum Jubilee is likely to be the last grand milestone in the reign of the aging monarch, a fact that inevitably hung over the weekend festivities.
Elizabeth II is both the longest reigning British monarch and the longest reigning female monarch in world history, having passed her long-lived predecessor Victoria.
Her reign has spanned the latter half of the 20th century and the first two decades of the 21st; there will be great uncertainty about the fate of the monarchy when she passes away after such a long stretch of stability.
Elizabeth II has been a beacon of calm and reassurance for the people of the United Kingdom and for countless others around the world, but her time on the throne has had its share of misfortune.
The Queen presided over the final disintegration of the British Empire; once the largest empire in history, Elizabeth’s reign coincided with the granting of independence to most of its remaining colonies.
Calls for the abolition of the monarchy have been ignored thanks to her role as a figure who can transcend politics to provide a link to Britain’s illustrious past in an era in which the nation has struggled to find its place in a new world order dominated by the United States.
A record breaking monarch
Her preference for avoiding politics has been a large part of Elizabeth’s continued unifying appeal, but it has left the monarchy in an uncertain state in the closing years of her reign.
Prince Charles, who will succeed his mother when she passes away, has frequently attempted to assert himself as an individual with opinions, in contrast to his mother’s presence as a stately figurehead.
Charles has chafed under the role thrust upon him by the expectations his mother created for the monarch. Being a silent and unbiased unifier does not come naturally to the Prince of Wales.
The Platinum Jubilee is likely to be Elizabeth’s last, but if the Queen lives for another two years she can reach a different milestone by becoming the longest reigning monarch in all of recorded history.
The current holder of that honor is King Louis XIV, the Sun King. Louis reigned for a spectacular 72 years in a time before modern medicine and, unlike Elizabeth II, presided over his nation’s golden age.
The Platinum Jubilee was a truly noteworthy commemoration of one of the most important historical personalities of our time, and a reminder of the uncertain future of the thousand year old institution she represents.