Devotion to duty

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THAT the Queen’s reign now encompasses 12 prime ministers, and the signing of more than 3,500 pieces of legislation, illustrates Her Majesty’s longevity and how she continues to remain “a connecting thread from one period to the next”.

Unlike the pomp and pageantry that accompanies the Queen’s Speech, and in which the Monarch reads out the Government’s intended legislative programme in stuffy language written by Downing Street chiefs of staff, this historic Diamond Jubilee address struck a balance between the formal and a dry sense of humour which has become one of Her Majesty’s greatest attributes. It was probably the only occasion this week that David Cameron and Ed Miliband will share a quiet chuckle together, given the significance of today’s Budget.

Yet, while the Queen used characteristic tact – unlike her Silver Jubilee address – not to refer to the whole of the United Kingdom, for fear of stepping on to political territory with regard to the upcoming referendum on Scottish devolution, this was a speech which was a powerful reminder of Britain’s good fortune to enjoy a constitutional monarchy rather than exist as a republican state.

And, while it came as absolutely no surprise that the Queen took the opportunity to “rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people”, again scuppering those who question the wisdom of having a Monarch who will soon celebrate her 86th birthday, it was noteworthy that she wants her Diamond Jubilee to champion the volunteers who underpin the fabric of society.

As illustrated by the Duchess of Cambridge’s hospice visit a day earlier, this country would be much the poorer without the voluntary sector – and there remains no finer ambassador for this unstinting work than the Queen. Long may her unblemished reign continue.