It was sad news to hear that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, longest reigning monarch in British history passed away on the 8th of September. The country went into mourning. As a tribute the BBC has been playing an endless collection of news, epithets and good wishes, condolences and fond memories from all around the world.
Not born to succession to the throne Elizabeth spent a loving childhood when, on the abdication of her uncle, her father was suddenly thrust into the role of King. Shortly after this the world collapsed in War. For 16 years the King ruled, during the whole of the Second World War, spending much of that time in Buckingham Palace. The Princess joined the ATS (the women’s branch of the Armed Services) in 1944, at the age of 18 where she trained as a mechanic. Her father made sure she was not given preferential treatment or honorary ranks. When the war in Europe ended in May 1945 she quietly slipped out of the Palace with her sister, into the crowds, dressed in her ATS uniform to join the celebrations in the street.
While she was travelling in Africa with her husband in 1952 she received the news that her father had died. At the age of 25 she became queen.
Through the turbulent times of the 1950s she over saw the transformation of Britain from a war torn battered country living under rationing to a multi cultural community drawn from all the nations of the Commonwealth and beyond. It was during this time that many nations chose independence and members of the Commonwealth from all over the world came to support the National Health Service, bringing their colourful cultures with them. Today the Commonwealth has grown from a collection of 14 nations to an association of 56 independent nations which attracts new members with no traditional connection with Britain. Without her dedication this association would never have withstood the tests of time.
It was during 1950’s too that Rock and Roll arrived from America, yet it was the immigrants bringing calypso from sun drenched climes, that began to change the colour of the nation. The 1960s saw an explosion of culture as Britain embraced the world under the inspiration of this remarkable woman. From the social concern of British Cinema to the world captivating pop culture of the Beatles singing of Love and Sunshine. Many other artists remaining dominant figures in the world of Pop culture, carrying the inspiration into the present, not least through work of the Rolling Stones. This period saw the transition of a world of drab greyness to the colourful world of integration and acceptance.
While she was not a political figure, as a constitutional monarch, she held a deep interest in the governments of the day and their activities, reviewing the ‘red box’ of ministerial papers daily. Politicians who worked with her all speak of her knowledge and interest in the decisions of the day. All comment on her dedication and devotion to duty, her integrity, simplicity and steadfastness.
Many speak of her humour and remarkable gift for putting people at their ease, whether she was entertaining diplomats, statesmen, pop stars or people in the street, she remained true to herself and to them by showing a genuine interest in their lives.
It is difficult to find the superlatives to describe this extraordinary life. Integrity, humility, duty, conscientiousness, diligence and hard work. She was tireless. Even in her 96th year, through failing health, she took the time to fulfil her duties, ushering out one Prime Minister, and inviting another to form a government, only two days before she died.
This was no ordinary woman. This was someone who loved life and was revered the world over and who stands, and will stand for generations to come, as a symbol of a life lead Truly, to the Will of God and for the Good of All. Many forget that she was the head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Besides being the figurehead of the Nation she was also a Spiritual Leader in the world, who took the responsibility of that role as sincerely as she took every other role in her life, whether as Mother or Head of State.
A truly remarkable woman and one who stands as an example to us all of how to lead a life of devoted duty to its fullest, honouring all with whom she came in contact. A truly great soul. Mother of the world.