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Diamond Jubilee: The Queen's Personality, Public And Private

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The Queen's public persona seems aptly suited to her role as head of state - patient, inquiring, diligent and relaxed.

Over the past 60 years, these qualities have enabled her to handle thousands of engagements with everyone from presidents and princes to members of the public.

Representing the nation at Remembrance Sunday, outlining the government of the day's policies in the Queen's speech or hosting visiting heads of state appear to be second nature.

Her solemnity and poise are needed on occasions like these when the eyes of the world are on her every move.

And she possesses a keen sense of humour which she uses to put nervous guests at ease with a quick joke.

But away from her public duties, the Queen has remained a private individual whose true character is known by only family and close friends.

At heart, she appears to be a countryside woman who has a deep love of animals and outdoor life.

Away from the duties of state at her homes in Balmoral, Sandringham or Windsor, she can relax surrounded by her dogs or studying the racing form.

Horses are a passion of the Queen, who has bred and raced thoroughbreds for decades - although she does not bet.

At a young age she outlined an alternative life for herself to her royal riding instructor, Horace Smith. She told him that "had she not been who she was, she would like to be a lady living in the country with lots of horses and dogs".

During the festive period, the Queen was probably given a pile of practical Christmas presents by her husband, children and grandchildren, which suit her common-sense outlook.

The sovereign is said to be as diplomatic within her own four walls as when meeting foreign prime ministers - side-stepping disputes and arguments with family, preferring a simple life.

Her diligent nature is revealed in her conscientious efforts reading her Government papers the same evening she receives them to keep up to date with business at Westminster.

It is known that at home she defers to her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in family decisions.

The couple are from an age when convention dictated the husband was in charge of the household and Philip takes the lead in private matters.

But it is likely the true nature of Britain's head of state will remain something only known by those closest to her.

As the Queen has never given an interview while sovereign, the person behind the crown will remain elusive.

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