Queen Elizabeth II of England is celebrating 65 years, or sapphire jubilee, on the British throne. The occasion was commemorated by firing of a 41-gun salute in London’s famous Green Park. The British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) reports that similar gun salutes also took place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and York. Elizabeth II is already the longest reigning monarch in Britain’s history, a milestone she reached in 2015.
The Queen ascended the throne by a stroke of luck in 1952, after her uncle Edward VIII reportedly abdicated in order to marry a divorcee. However, Elizabeth II has gracefully donned the responsibility since, ensuring that the Royal Family keeps out of government business in the constitutional monarchy system of the United Kingdom.
The Queen was married into the Royal Family in 1947 and has been a front-row spectator of some of the most defining moments of modern history, including the winding down of the British Empire and the unfolding of the Cold War.
The British monarchy has also been the subject of intense debate over the relevance of the institution of the monarchy in the ongoing age of democracy. Critics of the Queen argue that the very presence of a monarch is a reminder of Britain’s hierarchical society of colonial days, which is at odds with the principles of democratic equality that Britain now champions. The current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is known to be an advocate of abolition of monarchy.
However, Elizabeth II continues to be popular home and overseas. An opinion poll in 2015 found that 27 percent of Britons thought that she was the most popular monarch ever, followed by 12 percent for Queen Victoria. Another of few countries in the Commonwealth to retain the Queen as nominal head of state, Australia has seen the support of monarchy among Aussies rise to 47 percent as of 2013, according to a study conducted by the country’s election body. To her supporters, she provides a sense of stability and continuity in an increasingly volatile world.
Despite her reigning popularity, many in Britain and overseas also hope that she might be the last monarch to hold office. Beside evoking signs of Britain’s colonialism, the upkeep of the Royal Family is sometimes viewed as burden to the British taxpayer. According to the UK government estimate, the Queen will draw nearly 46 million pounds this year in order to carry out her obligations, which is an increase of 57 percent over the last five years.
If the financial cost of having a Queen is really worth it in a post-Brexit Britain is an important question.
A BBC headline aptly described the emotion, “Jubilee is a moment for contemplation.”
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Queen’s sapphire jubilee
— Lesley Wilde (@wildethingpr) February 6, 2017
(Source: Twitter/Lesley Wilde)
— Rosianna Halse Rojas (@papertimelady) February 6, 2017
(Source: Twitter/Rosianna Halse Rojas)
— Westminster Abbey (@wabbey) February 6, 2017
(Source: Twitter/Westminster Abbey)