A new photo was released today, 6th February 2022, to mark the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. The picture shows a smiling Queen with one of he famous red boxes; these despatch boxes are sent on a daily basis to Her Majesty and contain confidential documents relating to official government business.
This particular photo was taken at Sandringham House earlier in the week. The Monarch sits alongside a framed image of her late father, George VI.
She is wearing two diamond ivy leaf brooches, which were a gift from her late mother, Queen Elizabeth (better known as the Queen Mother) on the-then Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday.
The photo comes after the release of Her Majesty’s Accession Day message, in which she recommitted her life to public service, and also expressed her desire that The Duchess of Cornwall become Queen Consort in the future.
This year’s Accession Day is an historic occasion, marking the first Platinum Jubilee of a British Monarch, and while the country and Commonwealth celebrates, it is a poignant day of remembrance for The Queen, as it is the anniversary of her beloved father’s death.
It is likely that today’s photo release will be the only sighting of Her Majesty, as The Queen generally prefers to spend the day privately, mourning her father; this is also the first year she marks the occasion without the support of her late husband, Philip, who passed away in April 2021.
The red despatch boxes are an iconic emblem of British constitutional monarchy; the boxes are sent by the Monarch’s private secretaries and contain details of important Government activities. The Queen receives these boxes on a daily basis, with the exception of Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. While some papers are merely sent on an informative basis, others require Elizabeth’s signature for approval.
Despite the great technological changes seen during her now 70-year reign, The Queen continues to receive the ‘red boxes’ from her Private Secretaries.
The boxes are currently made by Barrow Hepburn & Gale, a British leather goods company dating back to 1760; the company prepares goods for not just the Westminster-based Parliament offices, but also government departments in Scotland and Wales. The Chancellor of the Exchequer also traditionally poses with a red briefcase when presenting the Budget.
The Monarch’s boxes are traditionally red; there are claims that this tradition dates back to another famous Prince Consort, Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. It is said that Albert favoured the colour as it featured on the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha coat of arms.
However, as the ‘red box’ predates Victoria and Albert’s reign, the red colour may have another origin. It is said the Spanish Ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza, once received a specially-made red briefcase filled with black pudding from Francis Throckmorton, representative of the ‘original’ Elizabeth (I). Although royalty was generally associated with the colour purple, some say that red became a royal colour following this exchange.
Continue to follow The Crown Chronicles for our coverage of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee on our website, and also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.