Queen crowned for glamour

In `Vogue' Elizabeth II stands with Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell

December 21, 2007|By New York Times News Service.

LONDON -- Glamorous is not exactly the first word that springs to mind when you think of Queen Elizabeth II, who became the oldest reigning monarch in British history yesterday.

Consistent? Yes. Dedicated? Definitely. But glamorous? That would be like describing one her famed corgi dogs as lissome.

Yet British Vogue has named this little old lady one of the world's 50 most glamorous women, along with Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and the queen's screen alter ego, Helen Mirren.

It's not that the 81-year-old queen has undergone some kind of dramatic makeover. She still wears the same sensible shoes and clings to the same style of pocketbook.

But "glamour is about how you wear something, not about what you wear," said the December issue of the style bible.

In fact, it said the queen is "as glamorous in her brogues and head scarf in Balmoral as she is wearing the crown jewels."

Born into the roaring 1920s, Princess Elizabeth grew up to marry the man of her dreams - Prince Philip, a dashing Royal Navy lieutenant - in a fairy-tale wedding at Westminster Abbey in 1947. Her silk wedding gown, stitched with 10,000 pearls, was the envy of young ladies everywhere.

Her coronation in 1953, a year after she succeeded her father, King George VI, was another dazzling ceremony.

Now that the queen has beaten the record of Queen Victoria to become Britain's oldest-ever monarch, she will set her sights on breaking Victoria's record for the longest reign. That milestone will be reached on Sept. 9, 2015.

Buckingham Palace is nothing if not motivated by milestones.

Just last month the queen traveled with her husband to Malta to celebrate 60 years of marriage. Earlier in the year, she visited America to mark the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English colony in the New World.

As the head of a royal family often hounded by the public and the press, the queen has probably fared the best in public opinion.

"The queen is as popular a monarch now as she's ever been - probably more popular than she's ever been," said Max Clifford, one of London's best-known publicists.

That's largely due to her practice of fulfilling every obligation with characteristic aplomb.

"She's done everything expected of her - duty, duty, duty - and she's done it uncomplaining in a constantly changing world," said Dickie Arbiter, the queen's former press secretary.

British journalist Jeremy Paxman, host of BBC's Newsnight, spent four years searching for something said by the queen in her six decades of public life that could be construed as controversial.

He found nothing, and it was mostly because the queen has said very little beyond prepared notes and speeches. She has never granted an interview, and she sticks to the no-comment rules followed by her ancestors.

"Anyone who can be at the center of the world's most intrusive media and still remain a mystery has to have an enormous talent," Clifford said. "She's still an enigma, and I think this has added to her appeal."

But is she glamorous? Clifford said he believes Mirren's portrayal of the queen in the movie The Queen has confused the public.

"Helen Mirren can be quite glamorous and sexy, and because of the movie I think some people have this image of Helen in their heads when they think of the queen," he said.

Anthony Adolph, a broadcaster and professional genealogist, said the queen isn't liked because she's glamorous. He said she's liked because she's the head of such a huge extended family.

Arbiter contends that the queen remains popular simply because she's much the same now as she was when she first came to the throne.

"She hasn't really changed even though she has adapted to meet the needs of the 21st century," he said. "She's popular because a majority of the population has grown up with her."

And there's every indication the country will continue to do so.

Arbiter said: "I believe the queen will continue in the job until she draws her last breath."

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