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I have watched Paddington Bear taking tea with the Queen dozens of times since Sunday and the scene still tugs at my heart.

It’s the twinkle in her eyes as she reaches into that famous handbag and pulls out a marmalade sandwich.

And the slight catch in Ben Whishaw’s voice as the actor helps Paddington wish her “Happy Jubilee” and thank Her Majesty… “for everything”.

But I was stunned when my neighbour, a diehard republican who wants the royal palaces turned into social housing, ­admitted it brought an unexpected lump to his throat too.

And after all our ­arguments about wealth, privilege and the value of a constitutional monarchy, he finally admitted he’s always admired Queen Elizabeth as a person.

Although he spoiled it by describing her as “a woman trapped in a gilded cage until the day she falls off her perch”.

He still wants that gilded cage ­dismantled when she’s gone though.

Queen Elizabeth II and Paddington Bear having cream tea at Buckingham Palace ( PA)

And the priceless gems gouged from the state regalia before the crown jewels are melted down for scrap.

I’ve just watched Clive Myrie’s BBC documentary about the £5billion treasure trove in the Tower of London: the crowns and bracelets, rings and spurs that are solemnly placed upon monarchs at their ­coronations as symbols of power and authority.

But I couldn’t help thinking that Elizabeth II’s reign has been better marked by far more mundane symbols: the collection of Launer leather handbags that have dangled from her arm for 70 glorious years.

Because they, and their contents, remind us that she is an ordinary woman handed an extraordinary burden thanks to a simple accident of birth.

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A wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who still wants her powder compact, lippy, specs and dog treats at hand even when she’s meeting world leaders.

A loving daughter who keeps the keys to her red boxes on a treasured St Christopher medallion given to her by her father.

A wartime ATS mechanic who still carries a handy penknife, and a newspaper crossword so she’s never left twiddling her thumbs.

Now we know Her Majesty’s handbag also ­contains an emergency ­marmalade sandwich.

And watching her tuck it back inside “for later” in her Platinum Party sketch was what really finished me off.

Because at the age of 96 and with increasing mobility problems, we just don’t know how many “laters” there will be for our record-breaking monarch.

But we do know that the day she closes her iconic bag for ever will break the ­nation’s heart.

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