Royal Who Is Still Loved by All; the Queen Mothers Popularity Never Wanes, Says Dennis Ellam

Article excerpt

Mortal frailty is taking its inevitable toll and yet even in her advancing years, the Queen Mother is still the inspiration she has been to the country for all of her public life.

The Royal Familys relationship with the people might have changed, but hers has not; she commands the same respect and admiration today, and indeed the popular affection, which she has earned through the many decades.

Now there is another crisis in her life to be overcome and conquered, and no doubt she will muster her considerable personal courage to meet it.

Certainly the people will be willing her to win this latest struggle to regain her health.

When the news began to reach them yesterday morning, millions will have felt a sudden grip of anxiety, at the first mention of an accident and an emergency operation in hospital during the night, just as they might have received serious word about a venerably old and dearly loved relative.

The tabloids like to call her the "nations favourite grandmother". It is an apt description of the role she fulfils now, although it says nothing about the reasons for the special esteem in which she is held by a population which, increasingly, has begun to question the very institution of royalty.

Even the most ardent anti-monarchists will allow that the Queen Mother might be exempt from their criticisms.

It can only be through genuine qualities of character, not some flight of PR-driven mage-making, that she should have attracted such unanimous and unfailing devotion.

The first of those qualities is a sense of duty. And she first demonstrated its strength during a crisis of a very public kind.

She was, of course, the princess who was never meant to be Queen, until the abdication changed the course of British history and elevated her husband to become a reluctant King.

She, the historians are largely agreed, was the strength in the partnership which ensured its immediate success, and hers was the popular appeal which helped to restore the monarchys reputation after the damaging impact of her brother-in-laws retreat from the throne and flight into exile.

When wartime newsreels showed her visiting Londons East End, among the ruins of the blitz, her status was confirmed as a Queen with a warm understanding and appreciation of the people e s expectations.

Churchill was to say that Her Majestys visible presence in the capital was a boost to the entire countrys morale, far more potent than any politician could have hoped to have delivered.

In fact, though we see her now in venerable old age, she still represents the pioneering of a new age of royalty.

Before her time, kings and queens had been remote figures, largely unseen and unheard by most of the population; she can be credited with starting the adaptation of the royal business to a new era of wider communications, and then to a society of drastically changing expectations after the war. …