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September 2006
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One of the red boxes used in the Private Secretary's Office One of the red boxes used by the Private Secretary's Office to gather official papers which are to be seen or approved by The Queen
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Q: Margaret - Surrey
I have a question about the leather boxes containing the state papers which Her Majesty The Queen reviews as part of her constitutional duties as Monarch.  Lately, I've seen them referred to as red in colour, but I do believe I once saw a mention that they could be either red, blue, or green. Also, what happens to the boxes after they wear out? 

The Queen receives important State papers from various government offices, as well as documents relating to the running of the Royal Household, via a number of red boxes. Material for these boxes is collated by staff in the Private Secretary's Office, and is presented to The Queen by one of her three Private Secretaries.

The red boxes are made from wood bound in red leather and are hard-wearing, often lasting several decades. When they are too worn to be used, they are taken out of circulation and replaced with new boxes.

Q: Thomas - Geneva
Is it true that The Queen has her own personal flag in addition to the Royal Standard? If so, what is the difference between them?

In December 1960, The Queen's personal flag was introduced. It was designed at The Queen's instigation as a personal flag, which is not specifically associated with The Queen's official role, but rather symbolises her as an individual. It can be flown from buildings in which The Queen is present or resident.

The Royal Standard is, on the other hand, representative of the sovereign of the United Kingdom, and of the United Kingdom itself.

However, over the years, the usage of the flag has changed so that it has effectively become the equivalent of the Royal Standard in Commonwealth countries. It is also used on certain Commonwealth occasions in the United Kingdom, such as The Queen's visits to Marlborough House where the Commonwealth Secretariat is based.

The flag consists of Her Majesty's initial 'E', the Royal Crown, and a garland of roses, all in gold (or yellow) on a blue background. The flag is also edged in gold.

The crown is a symbol of The Queen's rank and dignity, whilst the roses are symbolic of all the countries of the Commonwealth.

Q: Trinny - France
I know that The Queen was a Brownie, but have any of her children been Brownies or Scouts?

Princess Anne was a Brownie from 1959 until 1961 when she became a Girl Guide whilst Prince Andrew became a Cub Scout in 1968 as a member of the St. Marylebone Pack which held its weekly meetings at Buckingham Palace.

Q: Joseph - Northumberland
Which Prime Minister has served the most years in the reign of Her Majesty the Queen?

Margaret Thatcher has been the longest serving Prime Minister during The Queen's reign, having been in office for 11 years.

The list of British Prime Ministers in the last 54 years is as follows:

Sir Winston Churchill (from The Queen's Accession in 1952 until 1955)
Anthony Eden (1955-7)
Harold Macmillan (1957-63)
Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963-4)
Harold Wilson (1964-70 and 1974-6)
Edward Heath (1970-4)
James Callaghan (1976-9)
Margaret Thatcher (1979-90)
John Major (1990-97)
Tony Blair (1997 to present day)

Q: Jennie - Buckinghamshire
Does The Duke of Edinburgh have a Private Secretary?

Each member of the Royal family who carries out official duties has a Private Secretary, including The Duke of Edinburgh.

Private Secretaries essentially run the offices devoted to each member of the Royal Family. This involves dealing with correspondence from the public; responding to organisations and charities' requests; arranging a programme of engagements and related travel arrangements, and liasing with departments within the Royal Household regarding their Principal.

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