The Queen has urged members of the Royal Family to show public support for Britain through the deepening recession. “The changes will be largely presentational,” she writes.
The Queen urges members of the Royal Family to show support through recession
By Andrew Pierce
Always renowned for extolling the virtues of thrift, the Queen will avoid any public displays of extravagance amid growing unemployment and economic strife.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that Downing Street is increasingly looking to the Queen as head of state to lead the country through the bleak economic times.
The Queen’s own diary of engagements has already been discreetly tailored to ensure that she meets more people involved in the caring professions and helping the victims of the most serious economic downturn in decades.
Last week she held a reception at Buckingham Palace for 300 doctors, nurses, paramedics and volunteers working in the health service. Today she is visiting a new home for the disabled in Oxford run by the Leonard Cheshire charity.
On Monday the Prince of Wales was in Halifax which has been at the centre of the domestic banking crisis with a threat to thousands of jobs in the local community. Prince William and Prince Harry have been given permission by their commanding officers in the Army to increase the number of official engagements they perform.
Next month Prince Harry will present awards to “children of courage” and will attend a charity day in the City which will benefit 100 organisations including his own African charity.
Both Prince William and his brother are, according to an informed source, alive to the fact that the country is “in a difficult time” and will behave in public accordingly.
They are acutely aware that photographs of them tumbling out of expensive London nightclubs, when thousands of people are losing their jobs each week, will send the opposite message to the one the Queen wants her family to convey.
Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, columnist Mary Riddell explains that the Queen is planning to be a figurehead in the financial crisis.
“The changes will be largely presentational,” she writes. ” It has been decided that the princes should stick to military careers rather than glossy, fund-raising events. ‘This is not the right time for ribbon-cutting,’ I am told.”
Downing Street is taking a close interest in the way the Royal Family is conducting itself. The Prime Minister speaks “in affectionate terms” of his regular meetings with the Sovereign.
One Downing Street insider cited big institutions such as the “Bank of England and the Palace” as allies in the crisis.
He highlighted the Royal Family’s role during the Second World War when the King and Queen became symbols of the nation’s resistance.
In 1939 the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother publicly refused to leave London or send her two daughters to Canada, even during the Blitz contrary to the advice from the Cabinet.
She said at the time: “The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.” When Buckingham Palace took several hits at the height of the bombing, she said: “I’m glad we’ve been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.”
The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales are deeply concerned about the impact of the economic slump on the British people. Earlier this month, during a briefing by academics at the London School of Economics on the international financial turmoil, the Queen asked: “Why did nobody notice it?”
Only last month the Queen cut the cost of her trip to Slovenia and Slovakia by making clothing and recycling old items rather than investing in a new wardrobe for the tour. Palace officials branded her thrifty fashion sense “credit crunch couture”.
They disclosed that, instead of buying a new gown for the state banquet in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, the Queen wore a formal evening gown made from material given to her more than 20 years ago.
In the summer the Princess Royal turned heads at the wedding of Lady Rose Windsor, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, in a dress she first wore at the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who is also noted for his thrift, drives a London taxi powered by green fuel and wears trousers which he bought 30 years ago.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “The Queen, as head of state and head of the nation, and members of the Royal Family are sensitive to and aware of the mood of the nation and always try to reflect that in the work that they do.
“There has seen a long tradition of the Royal Family supporting charities and sectors of society that may not receive as much attention as others.”
Peter Hennessey, professor of modern history at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “The Queen does not need Number 10 to make her into an effective focus for the country what ever the prevailing economic and political climate.
“She is such a remarkable figure, she naturally fulfils that function. The Queen has this great gift for adapting without going for fads or fashions. But she does not need telling what is required to do. She just does it.”
Lord Fellowes, the Queen’s former private secretary, when asked by the Daily Telegraph about the monarchy’s role, said it must help heal the wounds caused by recession. “The monarchy, as much as any other part of public life, must do that,” he said.