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The Queen’s strength was that she did not change

Her task – did she ever quite realise it? – was to preside over a country in decline; and not merely to preside over it, but to be the nation’s anaesthetic, creating the illusion that the nightmare was not happening. When she was born, at 17 Bruton Street, by Caesarean section, on 21 April 1926,

A lifelong friendship: the Elizabeth I knew

On 29 January 1947, the Queen and Princess Elizabeth came to St Mark’s in Mayfair to attend my marriage to Eric Penn. On the following day they set sail on HMS Vanguard for South Africa where King George VI and the Queen, accompanied by their two daughters, were to make a historic tour of the

The Queen’s life was anchored by Christianity

King Charles III began his first speech as monarch by recalling the pledge made by his mother on her 21st birthday in 1947. Speaking from Cape Town on the occasion of her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth declared ‘before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your

Recollections of a Queen’s piper

In 2015 I was lucky enough to become the Queen’s Piper. I played the bagpipes every morning for about 15 minutes under the window of Her Majesty, normally while she was eating breakfast. The Piper to the Sovereign is part of the household so I travelled with Her Majesty to her royal residencies, including Buckingham

Elizabeth II’s devotion to the Commonwealth

It’s a question which would inevitably surface during any serious discussion of Queen Elizabeth II: who was her favourite prime minister? Unlike her grandfather, George V, who was clear that he favoured Ramsay MacDonald (and told him so), or George VI, for whom Winston Churchill was the clear winner, Elizabeth II always kept us guessing.

How The Spectator reported the Queen’s life

The reason the British people love the Queen, and are willing to die for her, is that they can understand what she is about, in a way that they cannot understand what the constitution, cabinet and parliament are about, or the Courts of Justice or the Bank of England, or any of the other abstractions

Charles III will reign in an age where feeling trumps duty

Charles III’s first address to the nation as King began by speaking of sorrow – and went on to speak of love. He used ‘love’ or its cognates eight times in that short speech. He spoke of his ‘darling Mama’ and ‘dear late Papa’, of love for Harry and Meghan, love for his people and

More mad than Vlad: Russia’s ultra-nationalist threat

‘Russia without Putin!’ was the cry of Muscovites who turned out to protest against Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency for a third term in December 2011. Crowds 100,000 strong chanted their opposition on Moscow’s Academician Sakharov Prospect – as symbolically named a venue as you could wish for – as riot police stood calmly

Notes on...

The Queen’s handbag was her secret weapon

In this period of national mourning, it may seem frivolous to comment on the late Queen’s handbag. After seven decades of selfless service to the nation, fashion is but a footnote to Her Majesty’s glorious reign. And yet her style is something that helped to create the powerful majestic image of Queen Elizabeth II, and