SPECIAL ISSUE (4/9) - Rigorous and serious, the Queen of England takes her role as monarch to heart. But gossip was quick to poke fun at his stiff air.
Awakened by the chambermaid like every morning with a cup of tea and an orange juice, Elizabeth reads the newspapers. "Damned!The Queen came across an article announcing that Philip Kinghorn Burbidge, a member of the League of Empire Loyalists, had been fined twenty shillings for slapping Lord Altrincham. The latter, at the beginning of August, attacked His Majesty in the review that his father, Edward Grigg, knighted in 1945, had directed. Among other courtesies, the impertinent had compared Elizabeth to a "boarding school pioneer". Sir John finds the Queen's voice unbearable and her speeches, delivered without a shadow of emotion, insipid.
"Damned! Damned! Damned!“Elizabeth knows that many members of high society, who find her stuffy, old-fashioned, cold as a cucumber, will still sneer at this condemnation, like everything that is done in the United Kingdom, in the name of His Majesty. She can neither protest nor respond to criticism. It has only one function: to reign. Elizabeth has been doing it for five years. At first, there was no shortage of praise for the seriousness and punctuality she brought to the exercise of what she herself called her profession. Every day, from ten o'clock in the morning, she returned to her office, a vast room which had been her mother's living room and where she had had George VI's office moved, to submit to all her obligations. Like a metronome?
She joined the Duke of Edinburgh for breakfast in the private dining room. Philip has his face from the bad days. He's probably already kicked out an overzealous valet. Philip can't stand the servants bustling around him like so many gadflies! As if he couldn't pour himself a drink! Or pick up the phone to call your driver! He offended many sensibilities at the palace as well as in the royal properties whose management he intends to rationalize. President of all kinds of associations, Admiral of the Royal Navy and Marshal of the Royal Air Force, the Duke overflowed with activities, but none satisfied him and he often stormed: " Here, I am only a microbe, an amoeba! »
Philip would have liked to be associated with the queen's activities. But Elizabeth defended her prerogatives. Because she very quickly understood that if she yielded even on the free access to her office, the impetuous would settle there permanently and would end up demanding to attend the interviews that the sovereign has every Tuesday with the Prime Minister. They are strictly confidential, as are the documents that arrive every day in the " red boxes of 10 Downing Street.
Year after year, the tension mounts. Concerned about her sister who, since giving up marrying Peter Townsend, is sinking like a dismasted ship, Elizabeth said nothing when Philip decided to embark on a tour across the Commonwealth in October 1956. A whole merry company, led by his friend and squire Michael Parker, escorted him. The foreign press reported problems within the royal couple and even spoke of pranks, but the British newspapers did not go down this path.
Elizabeth, however, had to put up with falsely pitying looks and humiliating whispers. She coped. And entrenched herself in her work. He fascinates her. Especially since Sir Winston Churchill, who remained his Prime Minister until 1955, was able to explain to him its grandeur and its constraints. The queen has only three rights: to be consulted, to encourage, to warn. Nearby " Lion she learned to be content with it. And to use them.
While swallowing eggs and bacon, the Duke of Edinburgh grumbled. Elizabeth tells him about the Altrincham case. He is already fuming. " Bloody Baronet! The queen smiled. Past her own fury, she had time to think while she took her bath. Not being a woman to revolve around her ego, she wants to correct the intonations of her voice, to try to be more warm in public, so as never to be treated as " boarding school pioneer ". Almost shyly, she asks Philip to help her. Across the oval table, the Duke of Edinburgh held out his hand.
This article is taken from Figaro Special Edition “Elisabeth II, The Last Queen”.