Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy wrote this poem, The Throne, for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. The poem was read by actress Claire Skinner during a service at Westminster Abbey commemorating the anniversary. The last two lines of the poem echo the words spoken by the young Princess Elizabeth in a speech she made on her 21st birthday from South Africa.
The crown translates a woman to a Queen –
endless gold, circling itself, an O like a well,
fathomless, for the years to drown in – history’s bride,
anointed, blessed, for a crowning. One head alone
can know its weight, on throne, in pageantry,
and feel it still, in private space, when it’s lifted:
not a hollow thing, but a measuring; no halo,
treasure, but a valuing; decades and duty. Time-gifted,
the crown is old light, journeying from skulls of kings
to living Queen.
Its jewels glow, virtues; loyalty’s ruby,
blood-deep; sapphire’s ice resilience; emerald evergreen;
the shy pearl, humility. My whole life, whether it be long
or short, devoted to your service. Not lightly worn.