As of Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II, woefully under-appreciated style icon, is the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
In advance of the landmark, the Times of London reported the assessment of constitutional historian David Starkey, who compared her unfavorably to Queen Victoria, the previous record-holder. He said Elizabeth sees her job as “ordinary and humdrum” rather than as “something grand, like the embodiment of history,” adding that she has “perfected the art of talking without saying anything.” He clearly doesn’t mean it is as a compliment, but let’s give credit where it’s due—making idle conversation while participating in excruciatingly boring formal visits takes determination and years of training. Monarchy, at least how the current crop of Windsors does it, not glamorous. It’s institutionalized boredom. Look no further than sixty years worth of newsreels featuring the queen. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it.
Here is a very enthusiastic crowd on a visit to Glouchester. All these years later and she’s still carrying those same bags. Please note that she looks terrified by all those screaming schoolkids.
Leaving a ship in Singapore.
At the 1966 World Cup.
Opening the new London Bridge, in 1973. Yes, here we are, crossing a bridge. Very good.
Shall we pop down to the pub?
Just showing Sarkozy the heirlooms around Windsor Castle, as one does.
Simply walking into Fortnum & Mason becomes a to-do when you bring Camilla and Kate.
And that is how you keep an institution like the Crown going through the bumpy twentieth century—small talk, a sense of duty, and sheer mulishness.
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Images via Getty.