When I was asked by an old friend to write this diary, I did my usual thing of: ‘Yeah I’d love to do this and of course I can get it to you by your deadline…’ Then the deadline flew past. Now I feel like I am back at school desperately writing an essay, hoping to get it in on time. At least the subject is easier to write about than the Shakespeare we studied for English A-level. This year the country, the Commonwealth, our family and so many people are celebrating a magnificent woman. Her Majesty the Queen is an incomparable monarch who has reached a record-breaking milestone. She also happens to be my grannie, and I am a very proud granddaughter.
When I was thinking about memories of the 2012 Jubilee, I rang a few of my friends and family to jog my mind. One friend referred to it as a ‘festival of Britain’. A family member reminded me of Grace Jones doing hula-hoops at the Jubilee concert and Alfie Boe singing from the window of Buckingham Palace to the crowds. On the day of the regatta, we watched 850 boats floating down the Thames in honour of Her Majesty. Most of all, I remember seeing my grannie and grandpa standing for eight hours in the rain, waving and smiling, and keeping the family and the nation moving forward like they had done for so many years.
The Jubilee allows an opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful charities and organisations that Her Majesty supports. Over the years of her reign, she has – alongside the Duke of Edinburgh – supported more than 1,000. I remember in 2012 attending one of the Big Lunches, which was a fantastic way to meet those contributing to their communities. My sister and I will be lucky enough to go to another of these lunches this year to celebrate some incredible people. I am also delighted to hear that the Jubilee pageant will include volunteers and key workers who have worked tirelessly over the past few years.
Another celebration taking place this year is the Queen’s Green Canopy, a unique tree-planting initiative created to mark the Jubilee. Next week, I am due to visit Horatio’s Garden, a spinal injury charity of which I am honoured to be a patron. It has planted a Jubilee tree in its fully accessible garden in the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The garden is designed for both patients with spinal injuries and their loved ones who face long stays at the hospital. I received spinal surgery in this hospital as a 12-year-old and it brings me so much joy to be able to celebrate with them now.
Seventy years is really quite something, isn’t it? The Jubilee stands as a testimony to a woman who has transcended time and has been that constant rock for so many when the world can feel so fragile. I remember during the worldwide lockdown, when Her Majesty gave a speech saying ‘we will meet again’, and in an instant we were all connected in a collective confidence that everything would be OK and life would continue one day.
As I look back on the 2012 Jubilee and the one we are about to celebrate, I think about how my life has changed in that time. I am now a wife and a mother with so much more responsibility than I had as a 21-year-old just leaving university. I have given my life to my special little family and hope to impart even an inch of the values my grandmother has lived her life by. I think about my son August and what I’d like for him, what kind of world I’d like him to grow up in. And I think of my grannie and what she has stood for, for so many people and for our family during these 70 years. I’d love Augie to have her patience, her calmness and her kindness, while always being able to laugh at himself and keep a twinkle in his eye.
And for me… well I’d like the next ten years, after the uncertainty of the pandemic, to be filled with gratitude for Her Majesty’s dedication and service. I hope the next decade is also a time for reflection on how, as a nation, we really are quite a great one. I, for one, am excited to see how we all celebrate this Platinum Jubilee.
HRH Princess Eugenie is a director for Hauser & Wirth. Since 2012, she has worked as a campaigner against modern slavery.