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A 90th Birthday Tribute to the Queen - with photographs from the Derbyshire Life archives

PUBLISHED: 09:45 17 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:45 17 May 2016

From Derbyshire Life September 1977, on the occasion of Derby gaining city status. The Queen is pictured at Derby Station   Photo: Derby Evening Telegraph

From Derbyshire Life September 1977, on the occasion of Derby gaining city status. The Queen is pictured at Derby Station Photo: Derby Evening Telegraph

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A birthday tribute to Her Majesty illustrated with photographs from the Derbyshire Life archives

The Queen is greeted by the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in July 2014  Photo: Andrew EyleyThe Queen is greeted by the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in July 2014 Photo: Andrew Eyley

How lucky we are to have an hereditary Head of State – a Monarchy – detached from politics and dedicated entirely to the welfare of the Kingdom.

We are one of the oldest monarchies in the world and so it would be strange if there were no unsatisfactory sovereigns but we have had very few of those. One could argue that republicanism is a sort of sickness. Using that metaphor we were well and truly inoculated against it by Cromwell whose short tyranny heralded the glorious Restoration of Charles II and we have had no serious attack of the republican virus since!

This month marks the ninetieth birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Not only is she the longest reigning sovereign in our long history but also the longest lived.

Many of us – who are old enough! – will never forget this beautiful young woman dedicating herself to her destiny and her country when she succeeded her father King George VI. ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’ She has kept to every word of that moving declaration and never put a foot wrong though some have tried to wrong-foot her now and again. An example of that is her demeanour on the death of Princess Diana. But, if analysed, she did exactly the right thing.

Even when very young, in the 1930s, her father, then Duke of York, said to Sir Osbert Sitwell (comparing his daughter with Queen Victoria) ‘From the first moment of talking she showed so much character that it was impossible not to wonder whether history would not repeat itself.’ Which, of course, it eventually did.

Being Sovereign is hard work all day and every day: reading despatches; dealing with a hundred problems of royal palaces; meeting heads of state; regular sessions with the Prime Minister (where she can ‘warn’ and ‘advise’); opening things; hosting Royal garden parties; Trooping the Colour; giving audiences to foreign diplomats; visiting the Dominions and indeed almost every county (including Derbyshire) and many other duties. She carries out these in all weathers and however unwell she might feel. And parallel with these duties there may be family problems or bereavements. How many of us could take on such a life, particularly well after retirement age? There is a story of the wife of a Lord Lieutenent who asked Her Majesty if Lord Lieutenants could not retire when they were seventy. The somewhat withering reply was ‘I am eighty’. That says it all!

Our Queen has had more than her fair share of troubles; the break up of some of her children’s marriages; the death of her sister Princess Margaret and other members of the Royal Family; her own health problems and her annus horribilis which included the devastating damage to Windsor Castle caused by a terrible fire. She has endured and come through many of these problems and Windsor Castle is back as it was, though in some ways even better.

We in Derbyshire have been very lucky as there have been several Royal visits to the county – as can be seen in the surrounding photographs.

How can one sum up this amazing woman? The three most successful monarchs in our history are women – Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II. Of those three surely our present Queen is the most successful and as such she will ever be remembered in the annals of our glorious history. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

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