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The Queen

Sailing over a rather wide range of subjects that includes the Queen, the movie about her, and the French, Daniel Johnson explains in "Les Anglo-Saxons" (New York Sun) why the Queen is so enduringly popular. It seems to have something to do with that lovely stiff upper lip we spoke of below. Johnson writes:

The movie, which depicts the aftermath of Diana's death, shows that Elizabeth II does not belong to the modern world of celebrity and — unlike her daughter-in-law — has no wish to do so. Yet by defying Hollywood's equivalent of the law of gravity, she has made herself one of the most recognizable people on the planet. What is more, her popularity is not ephemeral, but has endured for half a century.

Why? In a word, the Queen believes in doing one's duty. In her moral code, duty is not just a word. It really means something — indeed everything, for duty is owed to God as well as man. . .

It is part of this mindset that she doesn't complain. Once, in 1992, she used the phrase "annus horribilis" to describe a year in which three of her children's marriages collapsed and her favorite home, Windsor Castle, caught fire and nearly burnt down. But the misfortunes of life are to be borne cheerfully. Death holds no terrors for such a stoic, though I am told that she was a much kinder and more attentive grandmother to the bereaved princes than appears from "The Queen," which deliberately excluded the boys from the script.

We might say that a stiff upper lip is the exterior sign of an inner sense of privacy, duty, and 'getting on with it'. . .

Johnson's article also refers to the French leader who, according to recently disclosed documents, was so impressed with the Queen and with Britain he enquired into the possibilities of a union between the United Kingdom and France.

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