A version of this story appeared in the February 4 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
Queen Elizabeth II is adding yet another achievement to her record-breaking reign, becoming the first British monarch to mark a platinum jubilee on Sunday.
But despite an unprecedented seven decades of service, we won’t see the usual fanfare just yet.
Instead, we know the 95-year-old monarch will be at her home in Sandringham, remembering her father, King George VI, on the anniversary of his death. In keeping with previous years, no public engagements are expected on the day.
The most we might anticipate is a new image or message to mark the significance of this particular milestone. Formal military salutes are slated for the following day – Monday – as is traditional.
This weekend’s landmark moment emphasizes a familiar dilemma for the monarchy: commemorating the unwavering commitment of the sovereign but recognizing the personal loss. It’s something in which the institution is well practiced, but which remains as sensitive as ever.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson summed it up this week, saying in the House of Commons that “while it is a moment for national celebration, it will be a day of mixed emotions for Her Majesty,” before expressing his gratitude for her “tireless service.”
The last time Elizabeth saw her father was as she and Philip set off for a Commonwealth tour in 1952.
Her family had turned up at the airport to see the couple off, with the King cheering her on from the tarmac. Days later, while the pair were in Kenya, she received devastating news – her father, who was only 56, had died in his sleep from a coronary thrombosis.
“Significantly, we do have to remember that when she came to the throne in 1952, it was really not a very enlightened time in terms of working women,” said CNN historian and royal expert Kate Williams. “A lot of people thought that a woman wasn’t up to the job despite the fact that Queen Victoria and all the queens before had been great queens on the throne.”
Williams added that she “really has proved, over and over again, that a woman can do the job of a constitutional monarch, just as well as, if not better than, a man.”
This weekend, the Queen will probably be reflecting on her father’s legacy and how his reign helped define her own.