Why Queen Elizabeth II’s reign is best in British history: ‘Steady hand on the tiller’

Queen Elizabeth inspects Platinum Jubilee art submissions

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Britain’s longest-serving monarch celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this year, marking 70 years on the throne. The 95-year-old was just 25 when she succeeded her father as Sovereign upon his death on February 6, 1952. To honour the Queen on her landmark anniversary, a new documentary examines her extraordinary reign. ‘The Queen: 70 Glorious Years’, which will be shown on BBC One this afternoon, charts the Queen’s lifetime of service and how the monarchy has adapted over the years.

Narrated by Julie Walters, the film looks at the Queen’s journey from the days of the British Empire to the modern day.

A host of famous faces provide contributions to the documentary, including David Attenborough, Paul McCartney, Lulu, Trevor McDonald, Alan Bennett, Len Goodman, Twiggy and Cliff Richard.

Someone who has experienced the Queen’s reign first-hand is royal historian and biographer Mr Vickers.

Mr Vickers has profiled a string of 20th century figures, including the Queen Mother and Princess Alice.

He has also been involved in planning Her Majesty’s last three jubilees and has worked on preparations for the Platinum Jubilee.

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Discussing the Queen’s reign with, he said: “The fact is that the Queen has been a wonderfully calm influence in the middle of it all, a steady hand on the tiller.

“In a time of enormous change when you think of what it was like in 1952 and what it’s like now, it’s a different world altogether.”

In his role at the Commonwealth Walkway Trust, Mr Vickers has helped plan a series of walking routes across the globe to honour Her Majesty.

Work on the walkways, which are being plotted across the Commonwealth, has been gathering pace for some years.

The Trust has also set up a virtual 1,000-kilometre walkable route to link up some 100 cities and 2,000 points of interest across the Commonwealth.

Mr Vickers is on a committee for some of the preparations for the Platinum Jubilee, which will take place from June 2-5.

The historian argued the Queen’s 70-year-reign has been one of the best periods in British history.

He said: “I honestly cannot think of a reign in history in which I would have preferred to live under any economic circumstances.

“Although of course things are not always easy for everybody, we haven’t had it so badly in this reign to be quite honest.

“My generation didn’t have to go to war, my father, even my mother, their early lives were pretty much ruined by the war.

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“They had to spend the middle part of their life, when they should have been having fun, in wartime conditions.

“We haven’t had to do that unless you signed up and wanted to go off somewhere and economically people are, by and large, a lot better off than they were in previous generations.”

Mr Vickers compared the Queen’s reign to the brutality of the monarchs in Tudor England.

He said: “If you’d lived in the time of the Tudors and you’d been a rich magnate that might have been quite fun, but if you made one wrong move, they’d chop your head off.

“So, I think we actually are quite lucky to live in this reign and I think people will have a chance to look back on that and how fantastic it’s been.”

‘The Queen: 70 Glorious Years’ airs on BBC One today from 6pm-7pm.

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