Seventy years

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been, for seven decades, the only reliable point of sanity in the English-speaking world. She did not slip into perversion or hysteria even once in all that time. How lucky, for the rest of us, that she has been Queen, throughout — and seen off the various mental cases whom we elected. The family she leaves is a mixed bag. There is still some chance that her successors will show the benefits of her example.

Even in her choice of mischief, which she shared so wonderfully with the late Prince Philip, she set an example — of decency, requiring good humour. I remember her speaking after an Archbishop of Canterbury, in public perhaps thirty years ago.

“His Excellency has just spoken to you on the subject of sin,” she began. “And he was: Against. … I wish to speak on the subject of the family. And I will be: For.”

Neither the Queen of England, nor little boys live forever. Perhaps dragons do. (I was born in her Coronation year.) But for good or evil they preside over us, in ways both official and unofficial.

I was fortunate to have been assigned to these last seventy years.

And now the Queen is dead. Long live the King.