A loyal toast

AT the first wedding I went to, in the early 1970s, the first toast was the loyal (or was it Loyal?) one to the Queen, after which is was permissible to smoke.

Those were the days when we also stood for the National Anthem at the movies and people like my mother who had never been to Britain called it Home.

How things have changed since then, and as Statistics NZ shows, throughout the 60 years of Elizabeth II’s reign:

Deputy Government Statistician Dallas Welch says New Zealand’s population has changed markedly.

“Back in 1952, New Zealand broke through the 2 million population barrier and 60 years on, that’s more than doubled to 4.4 million. Coincidentally, the number of dairy cows has also more than doubled from less than 3 million, to over 6 million.”

Mrs Welch said immigration patterns have also changed.

“When the Queen first took the throne, more than half of our immigrants came from the United Kingdom.

Today that’s more like 17 percent, although in the past year, more people still moved here from the UK than from any other place.

“In trade, the Old Country used to contribute about two-thirds of our export earnings. Last year, 3 percent of our export earnings came from the UK.”

 And as for making a nice cup of tea, in 1952 an electric kettle cost 59 shillings and 6 pence (about $164 in today’s terms) and a lb (500g) pack of tea was 6 shillings and 4 pence (about $16.60). Today a kettle costs about $44 on average, and a box of 100 teabags (about 200g of tea) costs about $4.46.

This weekend Britain has been celebrating the Queen’s jubilee in style.

Celebrations here will be a lot more low-key and I suspect most people will spend little if any time contemplating the reason for today’s holiday.

The distance between New Zealand and Britain has increased in the last 60 years and the attachment to royalty has weakened.

But whatever we might think about the monarchy as an institution, the woman currently wearing the crown can not be criticised for her dedication to duty in the 60 years since she was precipitously thrust into the role of Queen following the sudden death of her father.

In light of that, I raise an electronic glass and offer a toast to Her Majesty.

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