HM Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen had already been on the throne for five years when I was born and since she reigned for seventy years, I, like many others, have never known another monarch. Her death closes a chapter in British history and from a personal point of view, I always regarded her as a rock of continuity. She just always seemed to be there and for all of her life, was above politics of the day – she simply reigned.
In her later years years, I came to regard her as one’s favourite grandmother; the kind, all-knowing granny that you could maybe sit down with and enjoy a nice cup of tea together. On the other hand, you could be sure of receiving a straight answer should you be seeking advice on a pressing matter.
In these days of national mourning, the outpouring of grief and affection is very real and punctuated by gratitude from most walks of life, for Her Majesty’s enduring sense of duty, which she fulfilled to the very end of her days. Perhaps it is that sense of duty that we now look back on and admire in her because the world today is very different and seems a strange contrast to the somewhat archaic values of Royal etiquette and succession. But those very values are steeped in history, so perhaps Her Majesty was our direct connection to the very roots of history of which we are part.
There are so many remarkable facts surrounding The Queen, not least that she was served by fifteen British Prime Ministers, including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. She met with thirteen US Presidents including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower and President Joe Biden. Her family tree can be traced back to Charlemagne, William The Conqueror and a distant connection to Henry VIII through his sister, Queen Margaret of Scotland, the grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots. Perhaps it is these connections that we value and they reinforce our sense of history.
Personally, I never met The Queen, but did come close when she visited Hereford in 1987, but I couldn’t attend because I was on the road and asked a friend to take a few snapshots for me with my Kodak Instamatic. But in end it didn’t matter because I was happy that she had visited our town, as she had done all over Britain and the world during her reign. She also had the common touch in that she was as happy meeting presidents and kings as she was meeting local gardeners, ex-servicemen and women, and schoolchildren.
If I could sum up the mood of the many who admired The Queen both now and when she was alive, it is for the respect we have had and will always have for her. Not because she asked for it, but because she earned it.