The image and personality of Queen Elizabeth II has, over the course of her sixty year reign, changed beyond all recognition
Since Elizabeth rarely gives interviews, little is known of her personal beliefs and feelings, though as a Constitutional Monarch, she cannot express her own political opinions in a public forum.
She does have a deep sense of religious and civic duty, and takes her coronation oath seriously. Aside from her official religious role as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she personally worships with that church and with the national Church of Scotland.
She has demonstrated support for inter-faith relations, and has met with many leaders of other World religions, and granted her personal patronage to the Council of Christians and Jews.
A personal note about her faith often features in her annual Royal Christmas Message broadcast to the Commonwealth, such as in 2,000, when she spoke about the theological significance of the millennium marking the 2,000 th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ:
“To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example” E II R.
Elizabeth is the patron of over 600 charities and other organisations. Her main leisure interests include equestrianism and dogs, especially her Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
Her clothes consist mostly of solid-colour overcoats and decorative hats, which allow her to be seen easily in a crowd.
In the 1950s, as a young woman at the start of her reign, Elizabeth was depicted as a glamorous “Fairytale Queen”. After the trauma of the war, it was a time of hope, a period of progress and achievement heralding a “new Elizabethan age”
In the late 1960s, attempts to portray a more modern image of monarchy were made in the television documentary Royal Family, and by televising Prince Charles’s investiture as Prince of Wales.
At her Silver Jubilee in 1977, the crowds and celebrations were genuinely enthusiastic, but in the 1980s public criticism of the royal family increased, as the personal and working lives of Elizabeth’s children came under media scrutiny.
Elizabeth’s popularity sank to a low point in the 1990s. Under pressure from public opinion, she began to pay income tax for the first time, and Buckingham Palace was opened to the public. Discontent with the monarchy reached its peak on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, though the Queen’s popularity rebounded after her live broadcast to the world five days after Diana’s death.
In November 1999, a referendum in Australia on the future of the Australian monarchy favoured its retention in preference to an indirectly elected head of state, while polls in Britain in 2006 and 2007 revealed a strong grass-roots support for Elizabeth and the Monarchy.
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