A Platinum Jubilee is a unique event in the millennium-long history of the British monarchy. Despite the increasing longevity of human beings, it is possible this country may never again witness a 70-year occupancy of the throne, or at least not for several centuries, the timescale on which our historic Monarchy is calibrated. Of her three rival platinum monarchs, the Queen has already overtaken Johann II of Liechtenstein and within two weeks she will out-reign the late King Bhumibol of Thailand. Only the 72-year reign of Louis XIV trumps her record, but he came to the throne as a child, while she was already a wife and mother at her accession.

In the course of her long reign, the Queen has made more speeches than any other woman on earth. Over the perspective of her 96 years, however, it is now clear that the most significant was delivered before she came to the throne, as Princess Elizabeth, on her 21st birthday, broadcasting from Cape Town to Britain and the whole Commonwealth, when she said: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”