Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Queen at 90

This weekend has seen the culmination of The Queen's Ninetieth Birthday celebrations both nationally and locally. Here in Oxford at the Oratory we had a street partry - indoors in the Parish Centre because of the doubtful weather - together with our friends and neighbiours from St Giles Amnglican church across Woodstock Road. This was a very happy and enjoyable occasion with bunting and decorations as well as plenty to eat and drink.

The historian in me falls to reflecting that ninety is not only a great achievement as an age for Her Majesty - and she seems to thrive in her present situation - but it is also a bridge to a past world.  When the Queen was born in April 1926 the Great War was not yet eight years over, and its upheavels but ill-digested. Three of Queen Victoria's children were still alive, all of whom she was to know.

Kaiser Wilhelm II was living in exile at Doorn the guest of Queen Wilhelmina, King Alfonso XIII of Spain and King Ferdinand I of Romania still reigned, "Foxy" Ferdinand of Bulgaria was an exile in his native Germany, King Manuel II of Portugal and his Queen lived in Twickenham, the year before Queen Maria Sophia of The Two Sicilies ( sister of the Empress Elisabeth) had died in Munich and lost to reality in Laeken the infant Priness Elizabeth of York's first cousin four times removed the Empress Charlotte of Mexico still lived in the time when she and Emperor Maximillian had gone out to the New World - she was to finally die the following year.

Ninety years is a long time and these ninety have seen more than many others might appear to have - but we live in an era of mass information - but it is sobering to see how much The Queen's life has spanned in terms of her fellow monarchs, let alone the lives and histories of their subjects.

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