At just 22, The Queen, or Princess Elizabeth as she was known then, welcomed her first child into the world via caesarean section at Buckingham Palace, allegedly being the first royal to give birth without the home secretary present to make sure the child wasn’t an “imposter”.
As the nation and countries around the world gear up to mark Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee this week, Asian Standard wanted to take a look at the Queen’s home life and how she managed to rule a nation as well as raising four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward as well as being a grandparent to eight grandchildren – Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor, James, Viscount Severn, and Peter Phillips.
The Queen is also a great-grandmother to 12 great-grandchildren including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s three children George, Charlotte, Louis and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s two children Archie and Lilibet.
When Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926, she was not expected to rule as her father was a younger son of King George V.
However, in late 1936, King Edward VIII became the first English monarch to willingly abdicate to marry an American divorcée, Wallis Simpson. As a result, her father became King George VI, and 10-year-old Elizabeth came the heir presumptive to the throne.
Following an unsuccessful lung operation, George VI died in his sleep at 56-years-old and so, just two months after her twenty-fifth birthday, Princess Elizabeth became Queen with two young children and a dashing husband – Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh at her helm.
It is believed that in the early years, she was there for young Charles and Anne but not as much as she wanted to as she was still learning the ropes of leading a country.
With a sixteen-year difference between the Queen’s oldest son – Prince Charles – and her youngest – Prince Edward – the Queen had much more spare time to raise him as she was more comfortable in her roles as Head of State, commander-in-chief of the British Army and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Richard Fitzwillams, a royal commentator and expert on the monarchy said the Queen didn’t give her two eldest children the time that she would have wanted but rectified it when she raised Andrew and Edward.
He said: “The Queen did her absolute best; I think she did remarkably well. The Queen succussed to the throne in 1952 when she was only 25 when the prime minister was Winston Churchill.
“In those early years, Queen Elizabeth wasn’t able to give as much attention to her children as she would have wished because there were so many other things she had to address. In Prince Charles’s early years, I think he would have wished to see more of his parents.
“Princess Anne said it best, she did her best under the circumstances. According to Princess Anne, she was wonderful and so was the Duke, given their commitments. As she was learning the ropes, she couldn’t give enough time to Charles and Anne as she was able to give Andrew and Edward.
“We know that Queen’s relationship with her grandchildren has been exemplary. Over the decades, she has been able to spend more time with her family as she became more experienced as the Head of State. What has to be emphasised is that the details of her family relationships are not discussed with the press, we don’t know or expect to know the specifics of her relationship with her great-grandchildren.”
One of the many duties of the Queen is awarding New Year’s and Birthday Honours and hosting a number of garden parties through the summer as a way of meeting people from all walks of life, all of whom have made a positive impact in their community.
Dr Ruby Bhatti OBE, a solicitor from Bradford who has over thirty years’ worth of experience in the legal sector, got to attend the Queen’s main residence not once but twice. In 2015, she attended the Queen’s prestigious Buckingham Palace summer garden party and got to attend again in 2020 to receive her OBE for her contributions as a solicitor and to the community in Bradford.
Dr Bhatti is a working mum herself, raising a teenage daughter with her husband who has aspirations to follow in her mum’s footsteps in the legal sector and become a barrister. As a working mum, like the Queen, she said that raising a family and keeping the household together can be difficult but having a good supportive partner is the key to being able to do it all.
She said: “I have one daughter and it was really important for me to keep a healthy family and work life. It is difficult, especially as a solicitor, to work and run the home but being a working mother gave me independence.
“I was fortunate because I have a great husband and daughter, whatever hours I wanted to put in, we would work together as a family. If I had to do a late evening, my husband was there to look for our daughter which inspired my daughter to want to become a barrister.
“The Queen is a wonderful person. My daughter loves history, she knows everything about her, the family, and she even took history A-Level because of her passion for the monarchy. The Queen is a really strong lady who kept her whole family together.
“I used to call my mother the Queen because she had the pearl necklaces on and was very elegant, she had a natural face, natural hair and was very conservative like the Queen. I was heartbroken when the Duke of Edinburgh passed away, it reminded me so much up of my mum and dad and their relationship, my mum did everything with my father.”
However, not everyone has such a rosy outlook on the Queen’s parenting as Mr Fitzwillams and Dr Bhatti. The creator of the hit Netflix TV show about the royal family, the Crown, Peter Morgan, said that “The Queen was too busy to be an attentive mother” to her two oldest children.
On the Crown’s official podcast, Mr Morgan said she was “too preoccupied with trying to find her feet and do her job.” He added: “Anne probably didn’t need that much mothering, based on what I see of her as a character. Charles, unfortunately, needed a great deal of love. He needed a lot of love, and she was probably unable to give it.”
What a remarkable journey, we take this opportunity to congratulate Her Majesty the Queen to become the first British monarch to reign for 70 years.
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