Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Queen Elizabeth II. Everybody's Queen!
Queen Elizabeth II, her full name Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor.
Her title in the United Kingdom : Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. She is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Queen Elizabeth is the only Head of State of more than one country/realm.
Elizabeth II is also Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, in each of which she is represented by a Governor-General. These 16 countries of which she is Queen are known informally and unofficially as Commonwealth realms; their combined population, including dependencies, is over 129 million, and their total land area makes Queen Elizabeth one of only a few monarchs to reign over parts of every continent on earth. (Go to each link to read on the unique constitutional position of Queen as Queen and Head of State of the realm/country.)
Her role (and title) Head of the Commonwealth is more unique, the Commonwealth of Nations have member countries, in addition to the above list of Realms, which are Republics, or Monarchies(!). (link):
The Republics include : India, Pakistan, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Gambia, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Fiji.
These were Commonwealth realms for some time after gaining Independence and before becoming Republics.
The following member states became Republics immediately on gaining independence but opted to become members of the Commonwealth: Cyprus, Cameroon, Samoa, Zambia, Maldives, Singapore, Botswana, Nauru, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Seychelles, Dominican Republic, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Namibia.
Independent Monarchies, once part of the British empire with their Monarchs considering the British monarch their King Emperor, which are members of the Commonwealth : Malaysia, Brunei, Lesotho, Swaziland and Tonga.
(Burma, now Myanmar, a former British colony, Israel, former British mandate of Palestine, and Sudan, a former Anglo-Eygptian possession, decided to have no Commonwealth relationship!)
The Queen takes a great interest in the Commonwealth, she is at great pains to keep abreast of the situation in each of the member states, making certain she attends every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The member states have several trade agreements, student exchange programs, sharing of resources and skills, the Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Youth Program, Commonwealth of Learning, Commonwealth Association of Lawyers, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Commonwealth Scholarships linked to the Commonwealth Association of Universities, the Commonwealth Business Council. (link)
In the case of India, its example may not be present elsewhere, the Queen and the Commonwealth are far from the public mind, mention of any news or information on these two institutions made rarely; the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was very keen to promote the Commonwealth although he steered the country on a course that distanced itself from the British Monarchy.
However, Indians take great interest, for example, the TV and media coverage of Charles and Diana's wedding, (some of the cinema theatres in Mumbai showed a documentary of the wedding before the main feature), the death of Princess Diana, Charles' second marraige to Camillia; the Indian media carries news of Princes William and Harry-Harry's keen interest to serve in Iraq, for example.
At the political level the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association must expose Members of India's Parliament to British and commonwealth workings. Besides, the Commonwealth Games are taken very seriously, the recent Games in India proving this point.
Queen Elizabeth is one of the most photographed woman in the world, her visits abroad attract huge crowds, the press always makes a mention of what she wears on each occasion -the Queens's style of clothes, though seen as outdated, are very attractive, her sense of colours and style stand out in the crowd.
The Queen is probably the most well informed Head of State, she has these unique Red Boxes sent to her daily, with State papers to read, comment on, and bills statutes to sign. including documents and state papers from the other 15 realms.
Through her reign the Queen has been 'served' by 11 UK Prime Ministers, 11 Australian PMs, 11 Canadian PMs, 14 New Zealand PMs, etc (see list.)
The Monarch has the right to warn and advice, but she never makes any political comments. The Speech from the Throne outlining government policies is prepared by the Prime Minister...........this tradition is followed in the realms by the Governor General of the day.
The UK Prime Minister meets the Queen every week, the PMs of the other 15 realms pay her a visit after being elected and keep her informed of important crucial matters.
Queen Elizabeth became Monarch in February 1952; crowned, in June 1953, at Westminster Abbey, London, simultaneously "ascending the thrones" of the other Realms, (see above.)
She married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg on 20th Nov 1947, and has four children, Prince Charles, Heir to the throne,Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
Very briefly, the Queen, born on 21st April 1926, is daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York; her father unexpectedly becomes King, George VI, in 1936, on the abdication of his elder brother, King Edward VIII, and Princess Elizabeth becomes first in line to the throne. She studied arts, music, and the French language; by the age of 16 she is appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards, in 1944, at the age of 18 she is a Councillor of State and carries out some functions of Head of State when her father went abroad to Italy. During the WW II she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and rises to the rank of Junior Commander, and a fully trained ambulance driver!
With foresight, she had requested the government to televise live the Coronation Ceremony on 2nd June 1953. The British Queen is easily the most travelled, most approachable person, eager to meet people from all parts of the world and all walks of life; her garden tea parties, informal dinners with her subjects and people from all accross the world, her walkabouts, meeting ordinary common folks, her honours to achievers from all kinds of work and vocations have endeared her to the public. She takes her work very seriously, fully acquaints herself with all important matters in the UK, the Commonwealth realms and the world.
The Queen's Genealogy: (link 1) and (link2)
Strictly, on a patrilineal ancestry basis, the Queen is descended from King Edward VII whose father was Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg Gotha (consort of Queen Victoria), and Albert's patrilineal ancestors were the Dukes of Saxe Coburg Gotha, Saxe Coburg Saalfeld and Saxe Wiemar, very old line of German Dukes who in turn are descended from the Wettins, Electors of Saxony.
(Descendants of the House of Saxe Coburg Gotha also become kings of Belgium (currently), kings of Portugal and of Bulgaria.)
(descendants of the House of Wettin became Electors of Saxony, then Kings of Saxony, Kings of Poland, Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Dukes of Saxe Coburg Gotha etc.)
Her royal ancestors go further back, from Queen Victoria, through Victoria's patrilineal line to George I, to the Dukes of Brunswick and Luneberg, further back to the Dukes of Saxony and to Azo II, Marques of Este, 990 A.D.
This gets more interesting............. through George I' s mother Sophie Wittulsbach, James I, the Stuart king of England, is George I's great grandfather. Again, through James' mother, the famous Mary, Queen of Scots, the royal line goes back to Henry VII (this means Henry's son Henry VIII and H. VIII's daughter, Elizabeth I were ancestral uncle and aunt of Queen Elizabeth.)
Through HenryVII's mother, the royal line goes further back to Edward III and to William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, who is descended from Ivar of the Uplands in old Scandinavia. William's wife is descended from the Capet kings of France.
William's son Henry I marries Matilda Edith, daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland; her mother is descended from Edmund II Ironside from the ancient line of English kings that goes back several generations to Alfred the Great, King of West Saxons, further back to Ealhmund, Eaba, Eoppa, Ingild, Cenred, Ceolwald, Cuthwulf, Cuthwine, to the Kings of Wessex, Ceawlin, Cynric, Creoda, and to Cerdic 1st king of Wessex, acceded 532 A. D.
Cerdic is descended from Elesa, Elsa, Gewis, Wigg, Freowine, Frithogar, Brond, several generations back to even stranger sounding names- Hathra, Hwala, Bedwig, Seskef, Magi, Moda, Vingener, Vingethor, Einridi, Loridi, Thor of Thrace and his father Munon, King of Troy!!!