Queen in ‘friend’ Women’s Hour’ as BBC Radio 4 show hits 75

Queen Elizabeth has 'no intention' of stepping down says expert

She sent her good wishes to all those involved in BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Her message was read by Emma Barnett – on her first day as main presenter of the show after taking over from Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray, who both stood down last year after long spells at the microphone.

In a personal message reflecting her enjoyment of the programme as a regular listener, the Queen’s message said: “As you celebrate your 75th year, it is with great pleasure that I send my best wishes to the listeners and all those associated with Woman’s Hour.

“During this time, you have witnessed and played a significant part in the evolving role of women across society, both here and around the world.

“In this notable anniversary year, I wish you continued success in your important work as a friend, guide and advocate to women everywhere.”

Barnett, 35, said ahead of taking up her new role: “I can’t wait to get to know the many listeners of Woman’s Hour a lot, lot better. What adventures we are going to have together – all starting in the year that this BBC institution, the radio mothership, turns 75.

“I have a long love of Woman’s Hour and live radio, and know that this is a very special and rare opportunity.”

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The message of congratulations was a rare honour for the programme from the 94-year-old monarch, an avid listener of Radio 4.

In 2017 she recorded a special message marking the 70th anniversary of Gardeners’ Question Time and, after BBC executives put the future of The Archers in doubt in 1976, she helped save the programme by revealing she liked to listen to the Sunday omnibus edition.

On Barnett’s first show yesterday, guests included Spice Girl Melanie C and Imelda Staunton – who will play the Queen in the next series of Netflix’s drama The Crown.

Staunton told listeners the Queen “might be an original Spice Girl”, saying the monarch had “girl power”.

She added: “The aspect that’s most important about her is her ability to just be there and be solid for everyone at all times.”

Her Majesty’s supporters might also say that, as the ultimate female role model, she has, like Woman’s Hour, reflected gradual changes in our society during her 68 years on the throne.

And she has remained a consistent supporter of women’s issues.

As Princess Elizabeth, she joined Sandringham Women’s Institute in 1943 and has attended a meeting of the group most years at the end of January during her winter stay in Norfolk.

She may try to join a meeting this year by video link, with tightened Covid restrictions likely dashing any hopes she and Prince Philip have of spending time on the Sandringham estate this winter.

Her programme of events is also expected to be severely curtailed again by Covid restrictions.

Even if she has had her vaccinations, there will still be a risk that she could catch a mild form of the virus.

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