Queen Elizabeth has been ruling the British monarchy since 1952, but not a lot has changed over the last seven decades — including her dedication. Though it’s been nearly 70 years since she rose to the throne, the beloved queen still puts the royal family “before everything else,” an insider exclusively tells Closer Weekly.
“The monarchy has been her life,” the source reveals in Closer‘s latest issue, on newsstands now. Because the 95-year-old royal’s devotion has gone unwavered throughout the years, “the public loves and respects her for it,” the insider adds.
Moments before the archbishop placed the crown upon Elizabeth’s head for the first time, she made a solemn promise. “My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,” Elizabeth, then 25, vowed on February 6, 1952, before God, her country and the world.
In 2022, Elizabeth will celebrate her 70th year on the throne — the longest reign of any monarch in British history. In the year leading up to her Platinum Jubilee, the monarch will be traveling around Britain on what is likely to be her farewell royal tour. The festivities will culminate with a four-day British national holiday weekend, beginning June 2, 2022, that will be filled with parades, concerts and elaborate parties.
“For Elizabeth, the Platinum Jubilee isn’t about herself. It’s about others,” says the royal insider. “Her motto in life is ‘Lead by example.'”
Certainly, Elizabeth has witnessed a lot of history in her time on the throne. From the troubles with Northern Ireland, to conflicts in the Falklands and the Middle East, to Brexit, she has always tried to inspire her country — even when it meant sacrificing her personal time with her late husband, Prince Philip, and four children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Over the years, there have been plenty of private ups and downs in her family, too. “She’s seen scandals, births, weddings and divorces,” notes the insider.
Through it all, she has put her own feelings aside as she’s aspired to bring the public hope and unity. That is why this tour and jubilee mean so much to her. “After the suffering, loss and devastation of the past year, she’s very much looking forward to seeing the nation come together in celebration,” says the source.
Despite her advanced age, getting out and meeting the people she has served energizes Elizabeth and fills her heart with joy. And it’s a mutual feeling. Her popularity has rarely dipped over the years. “Elizabeth is adored for her authenticity, hard work, dignity and grace,” says the insider. “Even after Prince Philip’s death, she continued to work.”
Of course, Elizabeth wishes Philip, who died at age 99 in April, could be at her side for the upcoming events, but as his health declined in the last years of his life, she knew she’d eventually have to carry on alone. “She thinks about him every day but knows he’s looking down on her,” says the insider. “She can feel his presence in spirit.”
Elizabeth won’t be alone on her farewell tour. Throughout the next year, the other working members of the royal family, including Charles, Prince William, and Duchess Kate (née Middleton), will accompany her on engagements and appearances. “We’ll also be seeing [William and Kate’s children] Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis making a couple of special appearances with the Cambridges,” confides the source.
The big jubilee weekend next June will bring together even more members of Elizabeth’s extended family — including Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle. “They wouldn’t miss it for the world. Harry and Meghan are making a special trip from Los Angeles to London with [their children] Archie and Lilibet,” says the insider.
Many eyes will be on Charles, 72, who is next in line for the throne. He has joked that he “learned the way a monkey learns — by watching its parents.” Over the past decades, he has been at his mother’s side in preparation for taking over her role one day. Elizabeth has expressed confidence in her eldest son’s ability to do the best for Britain and the entire Commonwealth. “One day, the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” she’s said.
When Charles becomes king, his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will become his consort. William will assume the Prince of Wales title, and Kate will become the Princess of Wales, the honor formerly held by the late Princess Diana.
As king, Charles is expected to respect the traditions that his mother upheld but look for ways to make the royal family more efficient. “He thinks that it’ll be easier to improve communication with fewer people at the top,” confides the source, admitting that Charles has a difficult act to follow. “I’m sure he’ll make a great king one day, but when you compare him to Elizabeth, it’s a lot to live up to,” says the insider. “I doubt he’ll ever be as popular.”
With luck, it will still be a long time before Charles is put to the test. Despite preparing for what will probably be her last grand tour, Elizabeth is serious about the oath she took to serve her country to her last breath. “It makes sense to start handing over some of her responsibilities to Prince Charles. She is helping prepare him to be king, but it is highly unlikely that Elizabeth will abdicate the throne,” explains the source. “She’s hoping to remain the head of state for as long as possible.”