The Queen has shown her relevance but Harry has not stepped up to the mark - Christa Ackroyd

It must be 20 years at least since I watched the Queen’s Speech live as it was broadcast to the nation. I don’t know why. Life got in the way, I suppose, but it’s not how I was brought up.

Do you agree with our columnist's thoughts on the Duke of Sussex? Photo: PA/Dominic Lipsinki

In our house her annual address was as much a part of Christmas as the turkey and plum pudding. So much so, mum would actually plan the whole day around it.

Up early to open the presents, the oven was on at six for the festive bird picked up freshly plucked the week before from Aunty Nelly and Uncle Lance in North Yorkshire. Vegetables were prepped while dad went off in his old Volvo to pick up granny from down the road.

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Two Way Family Favourites on the radio as we finished setting the table with the best china and tablecloth, humming away to the theme tune With a Song in My Heart.

The Queen gave a televised speech last Sunday, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Yui Mok/PA

I’m listening to it now as I write this. Lunch eaten with gusto to the sound of happy chatter before being cleared away, pots washed by the women in time to join the men in the best room on the stroke of 3pm to hear the Queen share her family with ours. Simple traditions that were repeated year after year.

Down the years as fashions changed as we ate later and travelled further to be with our family on Christmas Day, the Queen and what she had to say became, dare I say, less important to me. I was wrong.

I would always put it on for mum, of course – she still saved commemorative supplements about the Royal Family from The Yorkshire Post – but I often only half listened as it fell to me to be head cook and bottle washer.

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Two women born a year apart, but worlds apart, with the same love of a nice twinset and pearls and a pair of good, sensible shoes. But also with the same sense of shared history, the same family values, the same sense of duty, loyalty, compassion, stoicism, patience and faith. Virtues never more needed than now.

I thought of my late mum this week on the second anniversary of her passing as I joined 24 million others to watch what, for me, was the most important three minutes of broadcasting of the last seven days.

I was reminded again why the Queen is so important for our nation’s strength and wellbeing. She is our symbol of unbroken continuity in a world changed beyond recognition. She spoke as our Queen but also as a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother worried for her offspring and her wider family.

She reminded me of my mum and I needed that. I needed the Queen to be the calm in a world where nothing feels the same, in a week where a good friend, fit and healthy, beautiful and glamorous with a real zest for life was taken from her family by this terrible illness.

The message ‘we will meet again’ restored my sense of purpose, whether it is in this life or the next. The monarchy only survives if it remains relevant and this week the Queen was, though I am sad to say I can’t say the same for one of her grandsons.

I want to be kind and regular readers will know I have sympathised with Harry’s growing anxiety and sense of concern for his family, a fear that has never left him since his mother died.

But I am saddened that he and his wife appear so out of touch that they choose now to launch their new foundation/money making venture so inappropriately named after their son, whom they claim was the reason they left, to protect his privacy.

I sort of got it then but not now, having caught the last plane out to Malibu to join the rich and often vacuous, I am disappointed. I can see why Meghan would want to be near her mother. Everyone feels the same.

But I fail to understand why Harry has not stepped up to the mark when troops he served amongst and claims to want to serve in the future, have had their plans to return home to their families from the world’s danger zones cancelled, and when his own father has, like so many others, been ill with Covid-19, but lucky enough to have come through the other side.

I am sorry, Harry, but charity begins at home and while you awake to the soothing sound of the Pacific crashing in your ears, our world is crashing down around us, here. And if you wish to remain at all relevant, like granny, you should be with us, too. You could have jumped on a plane and come home. But you didn’t.

Such poor decision-making reminds me of the Duke of Windsor and his wife who spent years in exile, hosting dinner parties for sycophants but achieving very little.

It’s time, Harry, to put duty back to the top of your to-do list and follow the lead of your brother and his wife, who this week talked to children of key workers in Burnley via video link as they went to school, while their mummies or daddies put their lives on the line to keep us from harm. It didn’t take much but it made us all feel better.

In the meantime stay safe, everyone. The world at present reminds me of a batch of biscuits I made this week to fill the time.

They did not turn out as I expected. They were all out of shape and some were broken. They looked a bit of sight, to be quite honest, but my goodness they tasted good. And like life itself we all want to taste more, lots more, when all this is over.

So I say, ‘God Save The Queen’ and ‘God save all of us.’

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson