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What Queen Elizabeth II Is Really Like as a Grandmother


Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte, Prince William, Prince George, Queen Elizabeth, Christening

UPDATE: The queen and the Duke of Edinburgh met their great-grandson Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on Wednesday.

There's a new royal baby in town and his great-grandmother will be delighted to meet him. Soon.

The short delay isn't personal—Queen Elizabeth II doesn't really dart around for anybody and, at 93 years old and with a 97-year-old husband at home, the longest-reigning British monarch ever has earned the right to do things at her leisure. That includes visiting the firstborn son of her rumored favorite grandchild.

But of course they were officially "delighted" by the baby's arrival on May 6, just as the queen personally told reporters she was "delighted" when she arrived at the hospital to see Prince William just hours after he was born in 1982. (William is second in line to the throne, after all.)

The queen is also not just the boss of her whole family the way many matriarchs are; rather, she is literally their boss, royalty being their business. In turn, the well-being of her family also happens to be inextricably linked to the well-being of the United Kingdom, and inevitably over the years work has come first at times, as it did Tuesday when she and her consort, Prince Philip, remained at Windsor Castle for the Order of Merit service. A packed schedule also kept her away the day of grandson Prince Louis' christening last year, so favorites are not being played.

To be sure, the blurring of lines between family and duty (and propriety...and tradition...) has made for some complicated relationships within the House of Windsor, but at the same time, their bonds are also tighter than most. One for all and all for one, etc.

And though Britain's royals are famously undemonstrative in public, behind the scenes—where they have a chance to behave like regular people, preparing roast chicken and watching Game of Thrones—is a whole other story. It may be the queen, as head of The Firm, who has set the overarching tone for all of them when it comes to public decorum, but she's also been "Granny" for 40 years.

In addition to eight grandchildren, she and Prince Philip now, with the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby boy, have eight great-grandchildren. A full house indeed, so it's lucky that Buckingham Palace has 52 bedrooms should the family ever need to consolidate.

Now, this granny isn't spending much time baking cookies or stitching samplers, nor despite having passed on countless duties and patronages is she even retired, but she is a person to have a cozy chat with, sometimes—for the older kids—with a gin and tonic in hand. Although at times, it can be hard to tell which came first, the protocol or the closeness.

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