The second Elizabethan age is over

2 mins. to read
The second Elizabethan age is over

The Queen’s first private secretary, Sir Alan (“Tommy”) Lascelles (1887-1981) wrote a private memoir in 1960 which, edited by Duff Hart Davies, was only published this year. I quote Sir Alan’s words which I think speak for themselves:

“At the time of the King’s death in 1952, she was in Kenya. She returned as Queen, and from the moment she stepped out of the aeroplane which brought her home she assumed the responsibilities of her new position with a calm dignity that filled us all with admiration. In all my life I can recall no more moving incident than her entry into the crowded Throne Room at St. James’s Palace for the Accession Privy Council. There were, I suppose, over 100 of us Privy Councillors assembled; there was not one who was not stirred to the point of tears by the sight of that slim figure in black moving quietly to the throne, and by the sound of her unfaltering musical voice as she read that message to us…

For the next 22 months I saw her regularly, almost daily. Her immediate grasp of the routine business of kingship was remarkable; she never seemed to need an explanation on any point. Time after time I would submit to her papers on which several decisions were possible. She would look out of the window for half a minute and then say: ‘The second or third suggestion is the right answer’ – and she was invariably right. She had an intuitive grasp of the problems of government, and indeed of life generally, that I suppose had descended to her from Queen Victoria. Yet she never lost sight of the human side, or the lighter side of work. To serve her was, in fact great fun.

Every Tuesday evening at six o’clock, Winston Churchill her prime minister, would have an audience…What they talked about, I had no idea, but I usually heard peals of laughter coming through the door. Winston was heavily in love with her, and generally came out tears running down his cheeks…Then he and I would sit together drinking our whisky-and-sodas – he with his cigar…

I never saw any sign of her having found an audience, ministerial or otherwise, a trouble…Her father habitually suffered from violent storms of temper – a trait that was probably hereditary. I never knew the Queen to be even mildly cross or…ruffled…Her serenity was constant, her wisdom faultless. On the whole, I consider her the most remarkable woman I have ever met.”

The Queen is dead. Long live the King!

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