Queen faced ‘cheeky’ remark by royal historian but showed ‘incredible restraint’

Royal expert breaks down significance of Queen's 70 year reign

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Queen Elizabeth II, 96, is the second-longest serving sovereign monarch in the world, after Louis XIV of France. Her Majesty reached the milestone at the weekend, a week after her Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark her 70 years on the throne. As a tribute to the monarch, royal historian Hugo Vickers has taken a look at some of the finest moments of her historic reign and delved into the hidden details of her life.

The Twentieth Century biographer, who knows the Queen personally, helped plan several of her previous jubilees and worked on the Platinum Jubilee.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Vickers recalled making a “cheeky” remark to the Queen at an event in London, remembering how she showed “incredible restraint” over his comment.

He said: “I remember once, outside Canada House, she came to unveil a panel.

“Vincent Massey was on the panel. He was the famous Canadian High Commissioner over here and the first Canadian Governor General in Canada.

“And I said to her that I knew she wanted to make him a Knight of the Garter.

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“And the Canadians wouldn’t let her, and she just smiled because she knew I was right.”

He added: “She didn’t say anything else. Afterwards she thought it was rather cheeky of me to say that because after all, she was right outside Canada House.

“And the Canadian Governor General of the day was standing more or less next to her, so she couldn’t exactly say anything could she?

“There is this incredible restraint, she just keeps her counsel, which is amazing.”

Massey was appointed Canadian Governor General by the Queen’s father George VI in 1952 in one of his last acts as King before his death.

The Queen got to meet the Canadian official in 1957 as she and Prince Philip were invited to Ottawa.

During the visit, a picture was taken of Massey’s dog carrying the Queen’s purse in its mouth.

The official even used the rare snap of his moment with the royal couple in his Christmas card.

During the plaque unveiling for Massey, Mr Vickers claimed the Queen’s response to his joke was typical of her controlled demeanour when speaking in public.

He said: “I think she can say a lot in private, which she doesn’t say in public, and I think there, she has been terribly lucky.

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“Because, on the whole, with one or two exceptions – David Cameron and people – she hasn’t really been betrayed, whereas Prince Charles has quite often been betrayed by people.

“People have let the world know what he is thinking. They’ve stolen his diaries and published his letters and things like that.”

In her leadership of the Royal Family, the Queen is often said to have lived by the mantra, “Never Complain, Never Explain”.

Mr Vickers explained that although the Queen is careful with what she says in public, he also knows her to have a cheeky sense of humour.

He said: “She hears everything, sees everything. She is completely on the ball.

“And she quite enjoys catching people out. I think she and Prince Philip enjoyed that enormously.

“One of her favourite questions, which she asks with good theatrical timing, is ‘Are you sure?’ – well, you’d better be.”

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