Even at the grand old age of 90, one is never too old for anything. This includes applying to university, as a higher education is something I have never achieved as Britain’s longest reigning monarch. In fact, I hold no formal qualifications at all, but I am determined not to let this put me off.
So this autumn, I have decided to apply to several Russell Group institutions and see if they will accept me on to a part-time degree course in Politics (being the Queen, one is rather engaged with performing royal duties, and therefore unable to commit full-time).
However, I’m not sure how the universities will feel about me turning up to class with a group of chaps from the elite Royal Protection Squad. One will have to ensure they are dressed in plain clothes on these particular days, and take seats in the back row, so we improve our chances of blending in.
Unfortunately, when my Private Secretary Sir Christopher Geidt telephoned UCAS, my status as Her Royal Highness did not hold any water with them (I have a feeling they thought he was a prankster), and insisted that I still follow official protocol by submitting an application form through their website.
Although Christopher will happily carry out most of this drudgery for me, it appears one must write their own personal statement (I suppose one should not trust someone else to portray them in the best possible light, even if they are a parent or old acquaintance). Apparently, I have to squeeze this information into a space no longer than 4,000 characters – utterly ridiculous for one with over 60 years’ of politicking experience!
So after sitting down with my typewriter, and going through the arduous process of five drafts (each shown to my beloved Ladies in Waiting for sincere feedback), I have been able to produce this as my final personal statement:
Living at the forefront of British politics since my coronation in June 1953, one has experienced many eras of conflict and cooperation that define the landscape of the field of politics. My passion for this subject started when I was 14 years old, with my parents’ regular tours around the world to countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. This opened my eyes to their role in the Commonwealth of Nations, and the political mechanics of this intergovernmental organisation. I learned that politics involves a number of threads, such as language, culture, history, and human rights, which can work either together or on their own to create a democracy without any legal obligations.
My interests were enforced by lessons from my governess, which included mastering fluent French – this has proved extremely useful for communicating with political figures during international engagements, such as my State visit to Belgium in July 2007. The fact that politics concerns a number of interlinking disciplines is highly motivating, and I believe a degree course would satisfy my enthusiasm for political policies, the principles behind them, and why they are successful or unsuccessful.
Politics has always been a part of my everyday life on both a personal and professional level. For example, my marriage to Prince Phillip was initially met with disapproval because he is foreign-born with no kingdom, and his sisters were not allowed to attend my wedding due to their German husbands’ associations with Nazis. This made me realise that blanket rules and political traditions controlling whole countries can trigger an adverse emotional impact on citizens and their desires.
In 1945, I enrolled in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as an honorary second subaltern, where after a period of training I was promoted to honorary junior commander. This position developed my teamwork and leadership skills, by fixing cars, trucks and other vehicles with fellow ATS colleagues. My dedication and conscientiousness helped me achieve this rank after only five months of being part of the ATS. These abilities will undoubtedly benefit me during my university studies, and ensure I am a positive, thriving presence on your course.
My love of literature has ingrained a wealth of academic prowess in politics, with titles such as Letters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi, and Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present, expanding my political horizons beyond the Commonwealth, and providing me with a broad foundation of the worlds’ international relations. This knowledge will prove invaluable, allowing me to draw arguments and give opinions on a wide range of issues.
When my father’s health deteriorated in 1951, I had to stand in for him at events and other community functions. This exposed me to large audiences on a regular basis, which sharpened my proficiencies at public speaking and presentation, taught me to be comfortable engaging with different people in a vast array of environments, and honed my leadership qualities.
As a result of situations such as the complicated politics of the weakening of the British Empire in the 1960s and 70s, and having witnessed many UK general elections, I have always had to remain stalwart in not hampering political decisions that are outside my remit, and be objective where my influence will have an effect. Unfortunately, this has meant one must always expect criticism, but affirms the fact that in politics there is never a single solution that fits all.
Overall, I feel that studying new political and international methods would make me a better monarch by improving my governing aptitudes, enriching my current longstanding years of experience in turbulent political processes, and build a solid foundation for the rest of my future. I plan to continue being Queen and Head of the Commonwealth until my last day on earth, and look forward to joining your university so that I may fulfil this ambition to the best of my ability.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will suffice for receiving offers, though like many things in life, I am sure that with hindsight I will see ways in which it could have been improved. However, what with all this reigning the country one has to do, any spare time for completing this exercise over the summer has been significantly limited (though I’m sure all those prospective UCAS applicants with more time on their hands will spend as long as they can on it).
Let’s just hope that if I am able to acquire a place at one of my chosen universities, other mature lady students will be abound on the course, so one can make friends to compare handbags and exchange make-up tips with. I’m anticipating I will be given a special dispensation as Her Royal Highness, and allowed to bring my treasured corgis and dorgis along to my lectures (they will also provide a cute distraction if things get really boring).
I wish all students applying to university this autumn, and in all the years to come, every success with writing their personal statement. Please remember that however challenging the task ahead, being duly prepared and doing one’s absolute best will help one realise their dreams.
Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II