‘My own name, Elizabeth, of course’ – the Queen’s moving words and amusing quips

·10-min read
The Queen recording a Christmas Day broadcast to the nation (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen recording a Christmas Day broadcast to the nation (John Stillwell/PA) (PA Archive)

Here are some of the Queen’s key quotes from over the years:

“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” – As Princess Elizabeth on her 21st birthday in South Africa.

“My own name, Elizabeth, of course.” – Asked by her private secretary what she wanted to be called after she became Queen.

“Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.” – The Queen’s broadcast to the nation on Coronation Day in 1953.

“It is inevitable that I should seem a rather remote figure to many of you.” – The Queen’s first televised Christmas broadcast in 1957.

“I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else – I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.” – The same Christmas broadcast.

“I can readily understand these aspirations. But I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” – Touching upon proposals for Scottish and Welsh devolution in her Silver Jubilee address to Parliament in 1977.

“When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people and asked for God’s help to make good that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgment, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.” – At a Corporation of London lunch at the Guildhall to mark her Silver Jubilee in 1977.

“In a way I didn’t have an apprenticeship. My father died much too young, and so it was all a very sudden kind of taking on and making the best job you can.” – In a BBC documentary in 1983.

“Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements.” – Speaking about the Commonwealth in 1989.

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus horribilis’.” – The Queen’s speech at the Guildhall in London in 1992 to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession.

“We have all felt those emotions in these last few days. So what I say to you now, as your Queen and as a grandmother, I say from my heart.” – To the nation after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.” – About the Duke of Edinburgh on their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.

Grief is the price we pay for love.” – In a message to New York after the September 11 terror attacks.

“We both of us have a special place in our hearts for our children. I want to express my admiration for the Prince of Wales and all he has achieved for this country. Our children, and all my family, have given me such love and unstinting help over the years, and especially in recent months.” – Her Golden Jubilee address to the Guildhall in 2002 – the year both her mother and sister Margaret died.

“They have overcome Becher’s Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through and I’m very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves.” – Speaking at Charles and Camilla’s wedding reception in 2005 on the same day as the Grand National.

“In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognise how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945.” – At a banquet during a state visit to Germany in 2004.

“Christmas is a time for celebration, but this year it is a more sombre occasion for many. Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and, naturally, give rise to feelings of insecurity.” – Christmas broadcast 2008 in the wake of the economic downturn.

“In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign.” – Diamond Jubilee message in February 2012.

“I hope people will think very carefully about the future.” – Ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

“Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.” – About becoming the nation’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015.

“Over his 70 years, Philip and I have seen Charles become a champion of conservation and the arts, a great charitable leader – a dedicated and respected heir to the throne to stand comparison with any in history – and a wonderful father. Most of all, sustained by his wife Camilla, he is his own man, passionate and creative.” – About the Prince of Wales on his 70th birthday in 2018.

“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.” – Televised address to the nation in April 2020 in the first lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We should take comfort that, while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.” – The same address, echoing Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again.

“Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day.” – Televised address to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic continued.

“But our streets are not empty; they are filled with the love and the care that we have for each other. And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.” – VE Day 75th anniversary address.

“Of course, for many this time of year will be tinged with sadness: some mourning the loss of those dear to them, and others missing friends and family members distanced for safety, when all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand. If you are among them, you are not alone, and let me assure you of my thoughts and prayers.” – Christmas 2020 message, during the pandemic.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.” – The Queen’s response to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.” – Endorsing Camilla as Queen on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee in February 2022.

“While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family.” – The Queen’s message at the end of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022.

And some of the Queen’s more lighthearted ones:

“If you see someone with a funny hat, Margaret, you must not point at it and laugh.” – As a teenager, advising her sister, Princess Margaret, on garden party etiquette.

“How good he is, Crawfie. How high he can jump.” – To her nanny about Prince Philip as she watched him vault the tennis nets at Dartmouth College during their first publicised meeting in 1939.

“Get me started.” – To Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher at her Coronation when her train became stuck on the thick carpet at Westminster Abbey.

“I am not a film star.” – To Princess Anne in 1968, after her daughter urged her to join the miniskirt era.

“Oh Philip, do shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about” – To the Duke of Edinburgh as he was sounding off on a subject on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

“I’m not going to come out of my cabin until he is in a better temper. I’m going to sit here on my bed until he’s better.” – After a row with Philip on board the Royal Yacht.

“Back a bit, Ron – it’s me they’ve come to see, not you.” – To Major Ronald Ferguson when his horse nearly pranced in front of her horse at Trooping the Colour.

“Keep your cameras trained; you may see the biggest walkout of all time.” – To photographers after she was kept waiting for two hours in a boiling hot desert tent by the King of Morocco in 1980.

“Dog leads cost money.” – To the Prince of Wales, who took her dogs for a walk at Sandringham and returned without the lead.

“Fine, let’s go. Stop mucking around.”- On being told by her private secretary that she would have to start paying income tax in 1992.

“They stiffen but they do not curtsy.” – In 2001 about the knees of Cherie Blair, wife of then prime minister Tony Blair.

“For goodness sake, don’t let Mummy have another drink.” – To a pageboy serving the Queen Mother at a reception.

“I was just putting on my tiara when the lights went out.” – On a power cut as she was dressing for dinner in Jamaica in 2002.

“There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge.” – Reportedly to former royal butler Paul Burrell, whose trial on theft charges collapsed in 2002 when the monarch remembered a conversation with him.

“How very reassuring.” – To a shopper in Sandringham who did not recognise her and remarked that she looked just like the Queen.

“No, but he has.” (gesturing to the policeman next to her) – To American tourists, who encountered the headscarf-wearing monarch walking at Balmoral and asked whether she had ever met the Queen.

“I’m not changing anything. I’ve had enough dressing like this, thank you very much.” – On her way to be photographed in her Garter robes by Annie Leibovitz.

“He’s a big boy – the first born is very special.” – On the birth of great-grandson Prince George of Cambridge, who weighed in at 8lb 6oz.

“They were very rude to the ambassador.” – The Queen’s view of Chinese officials, caught on camera at a garden party in 2016 when she chatted to a police commander who described the difficulties of organising the state visit.

“How I will feel if people are still singing Happy Birthday to me in December remains to be seen.” – At the Patron’s Lunch on The Mall celebrating her official 90th birthday in 2016.

“So this toast is to wish a happy birthday to my son, in every respect a Duchy Original.” – About Charles at his 70th birthday party in 2018.

“I don’t know why anyone would want the job.” – Reportedly to Boris Johnson after he accepted her invitation to become Prime Minister and form the next Government in 2019.

“I keep mine in here… for later.” – To Paddington Bear, revealing she kept marmalade sandwiches in her famous handbag in a comedy sketch shown at the Platinum Jubilee concert in 2022.