With an indefatigability of which the Energizer Bunny would be proud, the Queen, it has often been noted, just keeps going.
Incredibly, this 89-year-old lady completed 393 official engagements in 2014, and although she has given up long haul travel in recent years, 18 of these took place overseas.
And the pattern has continued into 2015—just a few weeks ago she was in Germany on a three-day state visit.
Almost as remarkable is her husband who, aged 94, still does his duty attending events, even if sometimes the tedium leads him to curse out photographers.
He also enjoys a spot of carriage racing.
The Queen thinks nothing of it, and will do no less. When courtiers beg her to slow down and commit to a less hectic schedule, she has been known to icily reply, “I have to be seen to be believed.”
“The Queen works her socks off, and she plays pretty hard as well,” the writer Robert Lacey tells the Royalist. “She is still riding horses through Windsor Great Park at 89.”
Lacey adds that the Queen still reads through her official correspondence “the boxes” every day.
“She doesn’t regard it as work. She enjoys it, it’s the essence of her being. It’s her meaning. So why should she give it up?” he asks.
But on September 9, a mighty milestone will be reached even by Her Majesty’s standards.
For on that day, Queen Elizabeth II will officially become the biggest hardass in royal history when she breaks the record for longest serving British monarch.
The title has of course been held for more than a century by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who died in January 1901, having reigned for 63 years and seven months.
Today, however, most of her subjects believe that their beloved Queen has another decade in her at least. Indeed, many ardent Monarchists hope that she can possibly carry on longer than that, thereby reducing to a minimum the worrisome reign of ‘King Charles’.
But don’t expect the big day to be marked with gun salutes or parades.
The palace is quietly—very quietly—briefing that there will be no fuss about the day.
The Queen, who acceded to the throne aged just 25, on February 6, 1952, following the death of her father George VI, is said by sources to feel that any ‘triumphalism’ would be unseemly, and, in a subtle way, disrespectful to Victoria’s memory.
A call by historian Andrew Roberts for a “proper national celebration” has failed to get off the ground, while a suggestion by Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow that the Queen relay a video message from Balmoral to crowds outside Parliament was dismissed out of hand.
Her Majesty will instead spend the day at Balmoral, her Scottish castle. She may perform a local engagement and will almost certainly attend a church service to mark the day in respectful and dutiful fashion.
This would have the convenient side effect of allowing her photograph to be taken to illustrate the inevitable hagiographies that the newspapers will want to publish the following day.
The British people, while proud of their Queen for the most part, seem to share the sense that September 9 should not become a celebration.
No fuss, no parades, just a quiet sense of a job continuing to be well done—you couldn’t really get any more British, or more like the Queen, than that.