When, on her 21st birthday, the future Elizabeth II dedicated her life to her future subjects, her words were not spoken lightly. For the one word that sums up her long reign is “dedication”. For the late Queen, there was no other option. For 70 years and more, her royal duties and the needs of her subjects were her highest priority, and she was a shining example to everyone in public service, and indeed in all walks of life.
Elizabeth II might have epitomised well-dressed, middle-class England, embodying all its best and most cherished values, but she was a moderniser. Although raised in the Victorian tradition, it was she – with the support of Prince Philip – who created a monarchy for the 21st century, with the key word being accessibility. The Queen brought into being the walkabout, which enabled her subjects and many others to meet her and other members of her family. She opened up Buckingham Palace and Sandringham House to the public and sanctioned exhibitions affording fascinating, even intimate, insights into her public and private lives.
As far back as 1969, she authorised the film Royal Family, and thereafter she allowed unprecedented access to photographers and filmmakers while remaining conscious of the constitutional historian Walter Bagehot’s injunction not to let too much daylight in on magic.