Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has become the first British Monarch in history to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, marking 65 years on the throne. Her Majesty extends her run as the longest reigning British Monarch after having overtaken her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record of 63 years, 216 days last September.
Queen Elizabeth is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations and Queen of 16 countries which make up the Commonwealth Realm, including the UK. She and the Royal Family remain highly popular in the UK with Ipsos MORI reporting in April 2016 that 75% of the British public believe the Monarchy has an important role to play in the country’s future.
Here in (the Royal Burgh of) St Andrews we have a particular affinity for the Royal Family thanks to our alumni in the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They met in 2001 and graduated in 2005, Princess Catherine with a 2:1 in Art History and Prince William with a 2:1 in Geography. They clearly haven’t forgotten their connection with our town as Prince William made headlines in 2014 at a University 600-year anniversary gala benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, saying that you leave St Andrews “either married or an alcoholic.” Prince William is second in line to the throne behind his father Charles, the Prince of Wales and the Queen’s first son.
Queen Elizabeth succeeded her father George VI in 1952 after a long period of illness. King George VI had no sons and so Elizabeth succeeded as his eldest daughter but the rule of male-preference primogeniture was abandoned in the 2011 Perth Agreement which also ended the ban on the monarch marrying a Roman Catholic and now women have the same rights of succession to the throne as men.
Queen Elizabeth is now 90 years old and remains in great health after having recovered from a heavy cold over the Christmas period where she missed her traditional church service in Sandringham, Norfolk, on Christmas and New Year’s days. In her recent pre-recorded Christmas message, viewed by 8.1 million people across the BBC and ITV, she reflected on the inspiration she finds in ‘ordinary people doing extraordinary things’ and quoted Saint Teresa of Calcutta in saying that ‘not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.’
I am sure you will all join me in offering congratulations and wishing continued good health to Her Majesty.
God Save The Queen.