In an age of selfies and snapchat, there are increasingly fewer things that seem to endure

In this disposable age, with instant messages, selfies that are deleted almost as soon as they’re taken, fads that pass in a flash and throwaway coffee cartons, there are increasingly fewer things that seem to endure. However, there are still some constants we can continue to count on and, in this issue, we celebrate two of the most important.

In the 400th anniversary of his death, Shakespeare still bestrides the theatrical world like a colossus and has enriched the language we use on a daily basis like no other. However, it is the other icon—an overused word, but, for once, appropriate—who has most shaped the country we live in.

She may wield no political power, but The Queen, at 90, still has an influence the world’s leaders can only dream of. She is in every sphere of our lives at even the most mundane level. Imagine the coins in your pocket or the notes in your wallet with a different head on them. Imagine our stamps without the Sovereign’s head and postboxes bearing something other than ERII. Imagine saying ‘the King’s English’ and lustily singing ‘God save our gracious King’ at the Last Night of the Proms.

To mark her achievement as the longest lived and the longest reigning British monarch, a recent television special was given unprecedented access to The Queen’s daily life and to her family and it was clear that they recognise what they will have to live up to in the future. Prince Harry joked: ‘I’ve been asking her for years what her secret is, but she won’t tell me.’ The Duke of Cambridge summed up his grandmother’s incredible reign, saying: ‘The Queen is someone who’s been there, done it, bought the T-shirt’ and his wife added: ‘I have no idea where she gets her energy from!’ Although she has lived her entire life in the media’s glare, she has never courted its attention or tried to use it to manipulate her image. Instead, she has built a foundation on the deep roots of her family and faith and dedicated herself unswervingly and tirelessly to duty.

Often accused in the past of being too traditional, it is now her old-fashioned values and steadfastness that have made her someone to be admired and emulated the world over. Her long reign and vast accumulated wisdom have helped to stabilize relations across the world, especially within the Commonwealth.

But let’s give the last word to the Bard, writing about another queen who beguiled and gave her all for her nation:

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety: other women cloy
The appetites they feed: but she makes
Hungry
Where most she satisfies

Thank you, ma’am—the nation and Country Life wishes you many, many happy returns.

** See our pictures of The Queen in frontispieces through the years