London: Queen Elizabeth II marks 60 years since the death of her father and her accession to the throne, and begins the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee.
She is the second British monarch to celebrate 60 years on the throne, Queen Victoria being the only other to reach the milestone.
In a message to mark the day, she promised to “dedicate myself anew to your service”.
The question is whether her subjects remain dedicated to her or whether in the 21st century they believe modern times call for the abolition of the monarchy. As Queen Elizabeth celebrates 60 years on the throne, what is the state of public opinion about the British monarchy?
You would have had a very different answer 20 years ago than now. The Queen herself said:
“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'.”
Rather than celebrating 40 years on the throne, the private lives of her children were very much on public display. Prince Charles had separated from the immensely popular Diana. Prince Andrew separated from his wife as well, and Princess Anne divorced. On top of all of this, a fire raged through Windsor Castle.
The castle is owned by the British government, and there was a fierce debate on whether taxpayers would be left with the bill. The Queen agreed to pay 70 percent of the repair costs, helping to diffuse any public anger.
The Royal Family continued to suffer in the court of public opinion as details came out about Charles and Diana's relationship. When Diana died, the Daily Mail asked if the House of Windsor had a heart, and the Express demanded that Royal Family “show us you care”.
The Royal Family have done much to rehabilitate their image in the last 20 years and, from that low point, public opinion has rebounded greatly.
The family dramas of the early 1990s seem behind them, and Diana has passed on her popularity to her sons, William and Harry. The Royal Family is enjoying a rise in popularity attributed to last year's royal wedding between William and Katherine.
From heartless to heroes in a little over a decade, the Daily Mail said that the country was in the grips of royal fever after the wedding, with William and Harry topping the list for names given to newborn baby boys.
Prince William isn't just popular at home, but also abroad in the Commonwealth. During a trip last year to Australia, he was dubbed the “king of hearts”.
Popularity aside, support for the monarchy has remained relatively constant. Ahead of the Royal wedding, 67 percent of Britons said that the monarchy was still relevant, and 63 percent of Britons believe that the country would be worse off without the monarchy.
Today's Diamond Jubilee events were muted as royal watchers noted that this day is bittersweet for the Queen. It was not only the day that she ascended to the throne, it was also the day that her father died.
The focus of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations will take place over four days in June. The festivities will include a flotilla of 1,000 ships on the River Thames.
First Published On : Feb 6, 2012 21:39 IST