After the Coronation Elizabeth and Philip moved to Buckingham Palace in central London. Like many of her predecessors, however, she dislikes the Palace as a residence and considers Windsor Castle, west of London, to be her home. She also spends time at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
Queen Elizabeth is the most widely travelled head of state in history. In1953-54 she and Philip made a six-month round-the-world tour, becoming the first reigning monarch to circumnavigate the globe, and also the first to visit Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. In October 1957 she made a state visit to the United States, and in 1959 she made a tour of Canada. In 1961 she toured India and Pakistan for the first time. She has made state visits to most European countries and tomany outside Europe. She regularly attends Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings.
At the time of Elizabeth's accession there was much talk of a "new Elizabethan age". Elizabeth's role, however, has been to preside over the steady decline of Britain as a world military and economic power, the dissolution of the British Empire and the gradual development of its successor, the Commonwealth.She has worked hard to maintain links with former British possessions, and in some cases, such as South Africa, she has played an important role in retaining or restoring good relations.
Elizabeth is a conservative in matters of religion, moral standards and family matters. She has a strong sense of religious duty and takes seriously her Coronation Oath. This is one reason why it is consideredhighly unlikely that she will ever abdicate. Like her mother, she never forgave Edward VIII for, as she saw it, abandoning his duty, and forcing her father to become King, which she believed shortened his life by many years. She used the authority of her position to prevent her sister, Princess Margaret, marrying a divorced man, Peter Townsend. For years she refused to acknowledge her son PrinceCharles's relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles.
Elizabeth's political views are supposed to be less clear-cut (she has never said or done anything in public to reveal what they might be). She preserves cordial relations with politicians of all parties. It is believed that her favourite Prime Ministers have been Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan and Harold Wilson. Her least favourite wasundoubtedly Margaret Thatcher, whom she is said to "cordially dislike". She was thought to have very good relations with her current Prime Minister, Tony Blair, during the first years of his term in office, however, there has been mounting evidence in recent months that her relationship with Blair has hardened. She reportedly feels that he does not keep her informed well enough on affairs of state.The only public issue on which the Queen makes her views known are those affecting the unity of the United Kingdom. She has spoken in favour of the continued union of England and Scotland, angering some Scottish nationalists. Her statement of praise for the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement raised some complaints among some Unionists in the Democratic Unionist Party who opposed theAgreement.
Despite a series of controversies about the rest of the royal family, particularly the marital difficulties of her children throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Queen Elizabeth remains a remarkably uncontroversial figure and is generally well-respected by the British people. However, her public persona remains formal, though more relaxed than it once was. Her refusal to display emotion in publicprevents the growth of deeper feelings for her among the public.
Queen Elizabeth has never become unpopular, certainly not as unpopular as Queen Victoria was during a long period of her reign. However, in 1997 she and other members of the Royal Family were perceived as cold and unfeeling when they were seen not to participate in the public outpouring of grief at the death of Diana, Princess of...