As time moves on, it is an unfortunate reality that the oldest, most incredible members of our society pass on leaving the younger generation to continue their stories. It is also true that as The Queen has remained a constant through 62 years, less and less people are able to remember those who came before her.
62 years later, however, there is little sign of The Queen passing on the baton.
With the news this morning that Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh will visit France, we are seeing yet another factor that has remained constant through her reign – her dedication to her troops. Though she was not on the throne when allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, the men involved in the missions – some not much older than the young Princess – have always held a special place in her heart.
Visiting Normandy at the beginning of June is sure to be an emotional moment for the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and her former Naval husband, but it is an engagement that they will both carry out with the upmost respect.
Respect is a value treasured most by this elderly stateswoman, and one that has earned her a remarkable amount of reverence around the world. From Asia to the Americas, her long reign has attracted praise from many notable figures. In 2012, President Obama labelled her “a living witness to the power of our alliance and a chief source of its resilience.”
But The Queen is not somebody that takes kindly to praise and compliments. To her, the office she holds, and the work that she does, is cemented in the vows that she made all those years ago. From the moment she gave that momentous speech in South Africa, aged 21, promising her devotion to the “challenges” and “opportunities” that she faced, people knew that to her this was more than just a job.
That devotion has remained throughout.
Although the number of foreign visits is decreasing, and the younger royals are taking up those more arduous itineraries, an invitation to Normandy was one that The Queen would never turn down.
It is striking also, that on the day the official announcement was made, Her Majesty was set to visit a Royal Air Force base in Norfolk. Such visits prove that her unwavering support is not just for those that have gone before, but those men and women that continue to dedicate their lives in the name of the United Kingdom.
As the number of survivors of the D-Day landings begins to dwindle, it is likely that 2014 will be the last time the world gathers to commemorate those Normandy veterans. Similarly it is possible that it will be the last time The Queen travels abroad representing her nation. But it is fitting that this final foreign visit be dedicated to those she has continued to encounter over her reign.
Standing on the beaches of Normandy alongside Heads of State and government, her last trip abroad is set to be the crowning moment in a remarkable reign.