The Queen's sapphire jubilee reminds us of her quiet fidelity


Catholic Register, 8 February 2017

On Feb. 6, Queen Elizabeth II marked 65 years on the throne. It’s the “sapphire” jubilee, a designation which I did not know; 65th anniversaries are rare enough, but welcome as reminders that enduring fidelity is possible. The anniversary, not marked with any great festivity given the celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday last year, also has something of a reminder of the liturgical seasons.

In January 1952 then Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh had set out on a global Commonwealth tour, and were in Kenya when King George VI died at Sandringham, the royal estate in Norfolk. Immediately acceding to the throne upon his death, Elizabeth became queen in Kenya, and returned home to be greeted at the airport by her first prime minister, Winston Churchill, and the cabinet.

Ever since, accession day — Feb. 6 — has been kept by the Queen in private, a day to respect the memory of her late father. The Queen has the custom of going up to Sandringham for Christmas, where she is joined by the rest of the royal family. They return to their homes soon after, but Her Majesty remains until February, spending the anniversary of George VI’s death and her own accession in the same house where her father died.

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