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I cry when I think of what the Queen has done for all of us, says Dame Joanna Lumley

Right at the start, let me put my cards on the table: I think the queen’s world.

Of course I’m not alone. There are millions, literally millions, of people who think like me.

Let me put my cards on the table: I think the queen's world and millions of people too, writes Joanna Lumley

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Let me put my cards on the table: I think the queen’s world and millions of people too, writes Joanna LumleyPhoto credit: BBC
The Queen Joanna Lumley during a reception for contemporary British poetry at Buckingham Palace in 2013

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The Queen Joanna Lumley during a reception for contemporary British poetry at Buckingham Palace in 2013Credit: Alamy

But my unwavering devotion goes back to a double-tier wooden pencil case with a sliding lid, a stencil of Her Majesty on it, and my name on the back, which dates back to Coronation Day in 1953.

The Queen looks back over her shoulder with a calm and kind smile – and I knew then, as I know now, that she would never let me down.

i still have it It is kept with my tiny head model of Her Majesty taking the salute at Trooping the Colour. Her right arm is hinged so she can swing it with his plume of feathers up to her peaked hood.

She sits side-saddle, holding the reins loosely in her confident left hand. The mare she rides is called Burmese.

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This little model has pride of place on my shelf and in my heart, for having seen the film The Coronation three times – twice in black and white and once in glorious color – in the vast hall of the Army School in Kuala Lumpur, ceiling fans turned lazily about the crammed audience of us, the army brats.

I had a coronation medal on a ribbon, which I pinned to my breast-lost now, otherwise I’d still wear it-and a tiny, dazzling state carriage with horses made of lead, but gilded and heavy.

At seven I was too young to have heard and understood the Queen’s vow to serve the country and the Commonwealth, long or short, that she took at age 21 – and I still can hardly use the words my eyes are full to the brim.

Such a vow! Did any of us ever promise that when our lives were just beginning? But she moved effortlessly to the top of the pantheon of wonderful ones that I held in my heart.

As you read this, I know you might share my feelings – she became my queen and I watched her every move like a fanatic. I looked at her clothes in photographs with the beady eye a child mistakes for its mother in public.

She always looked flawless – but was that skirt really above the knee? Did she wear really groovy boots? How could that happen?

I later read that her clothing was chosen to make her stand out from the crowd – so bold colors were favored from head to toe. She might have to stand for hours, so the shoes were low heels and the bag would always be hanging over her left arm.

Her Majesty’s hair would be pretty much the same all her life, set back neatly from her face, well above her shoulders – the queen of our coins and bills.

As I write, it’s beginning to dawn on me that I see the Queen as a sort of mother figure of the nation, someone we turn to when the going gets tough, to see her reactions.

Joanna Lumley

As I write, it’s beginning to dawn on me that I see the Queen as a sort of mother figure of the nation, someone we turn to when the going gets tough, to see her reactions.

Her kind and measured response to disasters gives us comfort – knowing that she sent a message of condolence or congratulations fills us with the satisfaction of writing it ourselves. She knows how to entertain the world’s most famous and powerful people with the same calm compassion she shows at any public ceremony.

Because of my work, I have had access to many of these privileges. When you work as an actress, your clothes are prepared and you have your own dresser to help you get dressed.

Someone will do your hair and bring you tea and whatever you want for lunch. Someone writes the words you speak.

You’re driven home, your flights are arranged, your hotels are booked and you’re not paying for them. They are photographed and interviewed in rooms where visiting journalists receive strict instructions.

Sometimes fans cry when they meet you, or are too familiar out of nervousness, or step over the line, or are too shy to hold a pen and autograph book.

Your face can be so well known that wherever you go you are recognized – people feel entitled to say how brilliant or untalented you are, how ugly your dress was, how breathtaking your beauty is.

It transformed her

But despite everything, for celebrities there is a parallel and ordinary life. As I read this, I know that no matter how different your life is from mine, you too have that freedom – of course significantly shaped and limited by circumstances, but you are free to be your own person.

I have a theory – which I hope will not offend you – that King Edward VIII’s abdication was like a bolt of lightning that struck young Princess Elizabeth.

It should have burned her, but instead it turned her into a fabulous, new and different being, like lightning striking sand and turning it into glass.

Vowing to be that new person for the rest of her life, she set out to become everything she had promised, true to her word, a servant of many nations but with a crown. A queen for all seasons.

You only have to read testimonials of her determination and sincerity, her courage and good humor, her humility and kindness to know that she is the only one.

Through her own willpower and commitment to her country and the Commonwealth, she transformed herself from an ordinary woman into an extraordinary woman.

  • ADAPT from A Queen For All Seasons: A Celebration Of Queen Elizabeth II On Her Platinum Jubilee, by Joanna Lumley (Hodder & Stoughton, £20), available now.
I looked at her clothing in photos with the wary eye that a child mistakes in public for its mother, here young Joanna

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I looked at her clothing in photos with the wary eye that a child mistakes in public for its mother, here young JoannaCredit: Handout
A Queen for All Seasons: A Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, by Joanna Lumley

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A Queen for All Seasons: A Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, by Joanna LumleyCredit: Unknown, clear with picture desk

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5472382/what-the-queen-has-done-for-us-joanna-lumley/ I cry when I think of what the Queen has done for all of us, says Dame Joanna Lumley

DevanCole

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