The Queen truly is our Greatest Briton. Wham bam, thank you Ma’am, says Mark Dolan

Mark Dolan
Mark Dolan

What can you say about her Majesty the Queen? I mean doing something successfully for seven years is impressive. But 70? Years? Do me a favour.

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What can you say about her Majesty the Queen? I mean doing something successfully for seven years is impressive. But 70? Years? Do me a favour.

This shy humble woman was thrust into the spotlight at the age of 25. Incredibly, first prime minister who reported to her as monarch was Winston Churchill.

It was 1952 and this young Princess was now being briefed on a weekly basis by a giant of British politics and public life, Churchill himself.

Britain was still dealing with the economic, military, infrastructural and societal fallout from the Second World War.

The country was healing, whilst seeking a new role in a changing world. The Queen would become the face of new, of a new, postwar Britain.

She was to be the glue, that held this country together. On her watch, prim and proper 1950s Britain edged its way out of rationing and austerity, into the swinging 60s, modern housing developments, the white heat of technology, motorways, new towns, shopping centres, the Beatles and the contraceptive pill.

Elizabeth was on our bank notes for the multiple financial crises of the 1970s including the winter of discontent and that humiliating moment in 1976, when Britain faced near bankruptcy and had to go with its begging bowl to the International Monetary Fund to borrow billions. She was on the same bank notes, that saw an economic boom in the 1980s.

The first prime minister that really challenged her authority was Mrs Thatcher who thought she was the Queen too, and they were known to not get on. She was here for the entirety of our relationship with the EU – forty-seven years. And she was our monarch, when full sovereignty was restored to these islands, when we completely left on the first of January 2020.

She's been the pandemic Queen of course, continuing where possible to perform her litany of daily duties, in spite of the Covid restrictions, and she had to mourn the loss of her beloved Philip at the height of the pandemic.

You would need a heart of stone and the absence of a pulse, to not have been moved by that now famous photograph of her sitting all by herself in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. For me that image represented the sick inhumanity of the restrictions placed upon our people. Never again.

I know there were some rumblings about the Queen’s handling of Diana and her passing. Whether to lower the flag at Buckingham Palace and whether to show emotion. For the Queen there was never any confusion.

Duty and protocol have been the abiding themes of her reign and any public criticism at that time was a misunderstanding of those two important principles, from which she has never strayed. Duty and protocol. She was sticking to the rules and doing her job.

And here’s another thing. The Queen is elegant. And that is important too.

No one rocks a dress, hat and coat combo quite like her Majesty. And she's got a stunning smile. What can I say? She always has, and always will, looked just like a queen. She just looks, like a queen. And she's box office too. Around the world.

Most countries have to muddle along with elected heads of state, who are normally clapped out ex-politicians, or tired public figures.

The person representing the UK is one of the most globally recognised people on the planet. When she visits France, she's not staying at the George Cinq, she is in the Elysse Palace.

When she goes to Washington she's not at the Best Western. I do like a Best Western. She's in the White House.

Whilst being resolutely apolitical, she is in her own way a canny political operator, dropping occasional hints about what she thinks. When the Scots were in the throes of the independence referendum campaign, she simply hinted to them, to consider how they voted very carefully indeed. Talk about an iron hand, wrapped in a velvet glove.

And that sums her up. Authentic, elegant, and discreet, all sustained by the quiet, firm and relentless power of her character. You would've hoped at the tender age of 96 that she would be able to enjoy life. But she's had to deal with Prince Harry running off to Hollywood and vilifying both the family and the institution.

And what can you say about her so-called favourite son Andrew, although I think he may now have lost that title as well. Well she’s handled all of those things, in the way that she’s handled everything else. With down-to-earth common sense, a steady determination and a stoic, very British instinct, to keep calm and carry on. And long may she carry on.

Let's not have any talk of her passing the baton to Charles. Notwithstanding her recent health issues, she still has a great contribution to make; as long as she is with us, she always will. In the end, what does a head of state do?

They represent the nation. And with her humble, no-nonsense, fuss free commitment, she is the very definition, the epitome of Britishness itself. She personifies our history, our culture and our values and she leads by example, as she listens to her Roberts radio every morning, sat next to her ring heater, eating her cornflakes, famously stored in Tupperware. Strangely majestic, strangely down-to-earth, what an impossible mix this woman is. And what is her legacy?

Well she has been a solid figurehead through wars, economic crises, natural disasters, health emergencies, terror attacks and much more. and she has been a consistent force, at a time when our country and society has changed dramatically. I would argue, largely for better. Britain is a bold, creative, confident nation.

A beacon of diversity and an economic and cultural powerhouse. All on her watch. And I think her greatest legacy, is the monarchy itself and its continued existence.

In spite of the haters, and the best efforts of a couple of numpties in the family, the Royals remain stubbornly popular. And with the international soft diplomatic power they provide and with the billions they bring in tourism, as well as being an integral part of Brand Britain, the Queen leaves the institution in even better health, than she found it.

Her great achievement is that there is still a royal family. In the wrong hands, they'd be long gone by now, and we'd have some hellish elected president – a clapped out ex politician, public figure or celebrity. Just imagine the alternative.

President Blair. President CLEGG. President Whitty. President, Andrew Neil? Or even worse, President Gary Lineker.

Welcome to hell. So happy jubilee to the extraordinary, irreplaceable, precious and much loved Queen Elizabeth the Second. She truly is our greatest Briton. Wham bam, thank you Maam.