Queen never thought of herself as a celebrity, royal author says

·3-min read
The Queen (Christopher Furlong/PA) (PA Wire)
The Queen (Christopher Furlong/PA) (PA Wire)

The Queen never thought of herself as a celebrity or tried to become one, a royal expert has said.

Penny Junor said the success of Elizabeth II’s reign stemmed from her lack of ego and conscious decision to put the monarchy first and ignore the idea of stardom.

“She was incredibly clever in as much as she avoided celebrity. She never allowed herself to think of herself as a celebrity or to become one,” the royal writer told the PA news agency.

The Queen on duty at the State Opening of Parliament in 2021 (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
The Queen on duty at the State Opening of Parliament in 2021 (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

“She realised there was a distinction. It was not about her ego.

“It was about the position into which she was foisted and she knew people queued up not to see her, Elizabeth, but because they wanted to see their monarch.”

As the nation reels from the death of the monarch, Ms Junor described the loss of the Queen as a “major, major change” for the country.

“Most people in Britain today have never known another monarch, never known another face on the coinage, another face on the postage stamp,” the royal author said.

“They only know the national anthem God Save the Queen. This is a major, major change in everybody’s lives.”

The Queen meeting the crowds during a walkabout in Chester in 2018 (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen meeting the crowds during a walkabout in Chester in 2018 (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA) (PA Archive)

Ms Junor said the Queen steered clear of being a “big personality”.

“She presented to (the public) a very bland exterior. Nobody knew what she was thinking. She wasn’t a great big personality that you either loved or loathed. She was unobjectionable to everyone,” she said.

“So although there were plenty of people who ideologically didn’t like her because they didn’t approve of the monarchy, I think you’d be hard-pushed to find anyone who didn’t like her on a personal level.

“And I think that was very clever. I think it was purposeful and deliberate. When you get personalities, you get division and monarchy is all about unity.”

The Queen, who had been on the throne since 1952, was the UK’s longest reigning sovereign, serving from the post-war years well into the new millennium.

The Queen in 1952 the early months of her reign (PA) (PA Archive)
The Queen in 1952 the early months of her reign (PA) (PA Archive)

She was, according to Ms Junor, a conservative Queen who steered the monarchy carefully through the changes in society like the captain of a supertanker.

“She didn’t do anything dramatic, anything revolutionary, but I think she was an incredibly safe pair of hands, who moved the monarchy incrementally towards the modern era,” the writer said.

“She was like the captain of a supertanker with a very delicate hand on the tiller, moving it slowly, slowly, slowly round 90 degrees.

“When when she came to the throne, life was so different.”

At the start of the Queen’s reign, divorcees were not allowed at court, there were still debutantes and the only people that the monarch really met were members of the aristocracy or the armed forces.

“There was no internet, there were no computers, there were no mobile phones, communication was very different. Even flying was in its infancy,” Ms Junor added.

“And yet, you look at the model of the royal family, the Queen was tweeting, the Queen was on Facebook. She had a mobile phone.

Monarchy has kept up with society but in very small steps so as not to rock the boat.

“I think she has been a very successful monarch. Had she not kept up with society, then the monarchy would have become irrelevant.”