HM truly is mother of the nation

Monday 14 September 2015

Caption: Twitter/@Daily_Express

What does the Queen mean to you?

Much to my astonishment I’ve spent this week realising that she is one of the most important figures in my life.

I’ve never even met the woman yet she regularly appears in my dreams, usually about to descend on my mother’s house for tea. Mum is always in a flap and I’m always a shy child, hiding behind a half-open door, in awe but totally thrilled at the royal visit.

This week, as she celebrated, in typically understated fashion, the milestone of the longest reign of any British monarch, so many affectionate tributes have been written. They all celebrate her sense of duty, grace and dignity and on Wednesday the Prime Minister rightly described her as a rock of stability.

Many believe she has saved the monarchy. For a while, after Diana died, she and her family were heavily criticised and an ominously mutinous mood descended on the nation when she made the mistake of refusing to leave Balmoral for London, or fly the flag at half-mast above Buckingham Palace.

But as soon as she did go back the public forgave her. In the film The Queen, Helen Mirren as the monarch asked Martin Sheen, playing Tony Blair, if the country had really disliked her during those extraordinarily emotional few days. “For about half an hour,” he replied.

And that’s exactly right. The country wept for Diana and took a long time to regain respect for Prince Charles and his Camilla but the Queen was never in danger of losing her unique place in our affections. Because apart from her impeccable behaviour and tremendously conscientious work, we really love her and regard her as the country’s mother.

Harold Wilson used to joke of his weekly audiences with the Queen when he was prime minister that he was just popping out “to see mother”. A lot of our country’s sense of stability is because of the woman we regard as “mother”.

It’s so comforting to see her out and about on her frequent engagements (“I have to be seen to be believed,” she once said) and Prince Philip – is he dad? Not really, he’s more the irascible old grandpa but we love him for his constant support of our “mother”. Anti-monarchists hate this public attachment to her. They say it’s infantile. Maybe.

But the symbol of maternity is one of the most powerful in humanity, inviting respect and love. She has done us proud. Let’s hope she continues to be our “mother” for many years to come. Life without her is unthinkable.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.
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