Queen Elizabeth II’s historic Platinum Jubilee marks the first time a British monarch has reigned for 70 years but it was only made possible by tragedy.
Elizabeth marked her Accession Day on February 6, 2022—exactly 70 years after her father George VI died young at 56 years old.
The queen was just 25 when she lost her father while away from Britain in a remote part of Kenya.
However, the moment of tragedy was invested with the weight of expectation as it was felt at the time that the pressures of the job had brought about the deterioration of the king’s health, culminating in his death in 1952.
And Elizabeth inherited that same job from the man who had been Britain’s guiding light during World War II.
Lady Pamela Hicks was with her at the time and said: “I gave her [Elizabeth] a hug and said how sorry I was. And then suddenly, I thought, my God, but she’s queen,” as quoted in biography Prince Philip Revealed.
However, had George VI lived a longer life and died of natural causes, Elizabeth would have been older when she became queen—and Britain would not be celebrating a Platinum Jubilee.
Her reign had a youthful start but has continued into old age meaning the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, is already 73 and yet to start the job he was born to do.
The Prince of Wales would therefore have lived a long and full life at the point he celebrates his Silver Jubilee, marking 25 years on the throne.
If he reaches his gold, marking 50 years, scientists will want to know his secret as he will be older than 120.
Prince William celebrates his 40th birthday in June 2022, a couple of weeks after the Jubilee celebrations. If he were to become king immediately, he would have to live until 110 to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.
That means Prince George is the only living royal who stands a mathematical chance of clocking up 70 years but two generations of his family are waiting in the queue ahead of him.
If Prince William lives to the queen’s current age, George will be 64 by the time the crown passes to him.
Only tragedy could create the circumstances for the young prince to begin his reign early enough mark to the milestone, an event Britain and the world will be hoping never takes place.
And Prince George is almost 90 years off the age the queen is now, so if he makes it as long as his happy and glorious great-grandmother, it will be close to a century before anyone else has a shot.
With improvements to medical science, royal life expectancies appear to be getting longer not shorter, meaning the direct heirs will all hope to outlast George VI by many years.
However, any future Platinum Jubilee is not only dependent on the royals themselves but also the country’s support for the monarchy.
No royal is likely to celebrate the milestone over the course of this century, raising the question of whether Britain will move to a democratically elected head of state during that time.
Data collected by YouGov between April 30 and May 2, 2022, suggested 40 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds wanted to abolish the monarchy, compared to 37 percent who supported it.
However, the pollster asked a similar question between May 16 and May 17, closer to Elizabeth’s celebrations, and the dial appeared to have moved a little, with 33 percent supporting keeping the monarchy and 31 percent wanting an elected head of state.
Those numbers are still far lower than the overall population, however, with 62 percent of British adults thinking the monarchy should continue compared to 22 percent who did not.
It may be too early to tell whether disaffection among young people will be a long term trend and whether young Brits will carry those views into later life.
However, the odds appear to be stacked against a future Platinum Jubilee.
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