She certainly looked like she was having a good time this morning, but then Queen Elizabeth has spent her life being correct in public — always. She calls it duty.
Still, to all of her subjects and the reporters who cover her she is a woman of mystery.
The British take a certain delight in criticizing the royal family. But in 15 years of covering Queen Elizabeth, she has always appeared to me to be in control. She was trained as a child not to cry in public. The one exception I witnessed was her grief over the death of Princess Diana.
In her 1957 Christmas message, she explained what a queen does and does not do. Then, she said, “I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else: I can give you my heart.”
The queen symbolizes everything that’s great about Britain: Our grandeur, our traditions, our very, very strong sense of moral correctness and propriety, and a steely determination.
Also in the press pen with me today was Arthur Edwards. He’s been the royal photographer for 30 years. He treasures the candid photos he’s captured, but never got that private shot.
“I think I know a little bit more than a lot of people, but I don’t know the real queen,” says Edwards.
We do know she adores her pet dogs, enjoys placing a bet on her race horses, and like many families knows the pain of divorce.
What adds to the queen’s popularity is the belief she has the common touch. That behind the palace walls, she lives like the rest of us.
All she wanted for her birthday, she said, was some sunshine. Instead Friday night saw a fireworks display in her honor. It turned her night time bright… and shed a little light on the woman on the throne.