Shelby: Today marks an important anniversary across the pond. The queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, is celebrating 60 years on the throne. The 85-year-old monarch’s milestone will be marked by several events throughout the year. And while the big celebration won’t be held until June, the queen is unveiling a special, and more personal, exhibit in England today.
To mark the anniversary, Queen Elizabeth II is opening the doors of Windsor Castle to the public. On display, a royal collection of 60 photographs for 60 years on the throne.
There is a big focus on family. And the queen’s role as a leader. There have been twelve U.S. presidents during her 60 years as queen.
But the pictures also show that life can be lonely at the top. Crowned at age 26, Elizabeth II has seen a lot of changes in her 60 years as queen. While the British monarch still serves as the official head of state, the royal family’s role is more about influence than it is power.
Queen Elizabeth II opens parliament, meets with the prime minister and hosts foreign leaders. But it is the prime minister and parliament that make and enforce the country’s laws, similar to our president and Congress.
British taxpayers pay for things like staff and security for the royals to act as heads of state. But the monarchy’s personal expenses aren’t directly supported by the taxpayers. They have their own wealth and investments.
And the monarchy is a big draw, bringing in a lot of money from tourists every year. Especially things like the royal wedding of William and Kate last year.
“The monarchy is very important. They bring in a lot of money each year and it makes us unique from other countries.”
Shelby: While covering the wedding, I talked to teens in London about what the monarchy means to them.
“They represent Britain, in a way, because everyone looks to Britain and thinks, like, ‘the queen” and things like that. But they don’t have much physical power these days anyway, so it’s not like they can affect me. So, I’m not really influenced by them or anything like that.”
“I know people have their own opinions, but I think it’s a bit archaic in my own sense. I don’t think there’s a need for it in Britain. I know it brings tourists here, and probably generates a lot of tourism, but apart from that, it has no effect on anything really. I mean, back in the day, yes, the king and queen used to rule. But now we’ve got prime ministers and the parliament, and they do all of the decision making. So, I don’t know. I don’t think — for me — I don’t think there’s much point to it.
Shelby: Point or not, the British monarchy still has a lot of influence and Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th anniversary is being honored around the world.
Throughout the year, members of the royal family, including Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, will be traveling to commonwealth countries like Canada, Jamaica and Belize to celebrate the anniversary.