Queen Elizabeth an example to all

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2012, 12:00am


Britain's Queen Elizabeth is nothing more than a celebrity to Hong Kong people, our official links to her having been severed on July 1, 1997. Occasionally, a coin with a likeness of her head shows up in our change and we are reminded of the former ties through names such as the Queen Elizabeth hospital or stadium and the Jockey Club's Queen Elizabeth II Cup. But as she celebrates her diamond jubilee as the British monarch, we should also think of the way she has gone about her job. Throughout, she has done it with grace, tact and even-handedness - qualities that every politician needs, yet too few of those who serve us have yet acquired.

Being a monarch is not a conventional job, of course. It is unusual and, in a democracy, anachronistic. That Elizabeth has carried out her duties for 60 years certainly defines her as a remarkable person, one deserving of respect. She may not be as beloved as her late daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, but it is impossible not to admire her strength of character and will.

Few could imagine doing such a job, let alone fulfilling it with such devotion for so long. But while Britons largely identify with their queen, they are at most times indifferent to her and the royal family. Anniversaries are times for review and reflection and Britain needs to have a good think about the monarchy. Discussing and debating its place should follow this week's flag-waving and celebratory partying.

Elizabeth's political and diplomatic skills did not come easily or overnight. She had to weather the difficult years of the 1990s when public opinion of the royal family plunged and its worth to Britain was questioned. With the media growing more intrusive, she has had to deal with the challenges of a host of indiscretions by those closest to her. The odds have been beaten, though, and on the jubilee, opinion polls show the monarchy has record popularity and support for the queen outstrips politicians. Her tact and judgment are to be admired - and should be a study for all in public office, Hong Kong included.