The last twenty-four hours, since she died has left me … wondering. My generation, indeed any generation born during the last seventy years, has known no-one else. She was the last of an era of giants, I think.
The facts of her life are all over the media today, as is to be expected. I have loved roaming through photographs of her over the years. As a Canadian born, I have many fond memories of her. My class, which started school in 1967, was possibly one of the first that didn’t sing ‘God Save the Queen’ (I shall have to remember to say ‘King’), but rather ‘Oh Canada’ at the start of the school day.
Many Canadians feel that it’s time Canada stopped having to seek royal permission to enact laws, via the Governor General and a rubber stamp (at this point). So much easier with the internet and telephones. In 1867, when my country was first granted its nationhood, John A. MacDonald and the others had to travel to London from Ontario to seek Parliamentary assent to form the nation of Canada via the British North America Act. It has always pleased me that women were to have the vote, along with anyone else who was a citizen of the nation, in the original Act. That is the only change those Members of Parliament who deigned to show up insisted on before signing — women were not to have the vote.
By the time Elizabeth became Queen, my country had been granted the right to self-governance in the 1930s (with the aforementioned Governor General caveat) and had chosen without hesitation, via a vote in Parliament, to stand beside the United Kingdom through World War II. The ties between our two nations are strong.
I remember seeing her on television when I was a child watching the news with my parents and on documentaries. Always in bright colours, the Queen Mum often by her side. I grew up with her children in many ways, having been born in 1963. They were always a presence, but she … she was different … apart … but always comfortingly there.
I saw her weather the storms of politics and war, always calm, always present, always solid. When the events of 1992 occurred, three Royal marriages ending in separation/divorce and the fire at Windsor, I remember worrying. It was the one time, ever.
There she was in the Middle East. There she was in South Africa. I don’t think a world crisis has occurred in 70 years that didn’t have her quietly guiding the country through, via the PM. She has been a calming, a steadying, influence on world events, during my lifetime. Working, I imagine, behind the scenes. I cannot conceive of a world without her.
And yet, I must. We all must. The United Kingdom lost their beloved Queen, the Commonwealth lost its beloved Monarch, the world lost one of the greats. She epitomized dignity, grace under pressure and service to one’s nation and people. Even before she was Queen, she understood the importance of service to one’s nation when she insisted on being allowed to become a mechanic and do her bit. She lived that for the rest of her life. She gave her life, diligently and steadfastly, to service.
I will never forget the sight of her doing her duty during first lockdown, when she sat alone, distanced from her family and comfort due to Covid restriction, mourning in St George’s Chapel at Prince Philip’s funeral. She looked so lost … and stoic. I just wanted to hug her.
She’s the only Monarch I’ve ever known. My respect for her is profound. As is my love.
King Charles III just addressed the nation. His grief was evident and he expressed it so much better than I ever could. And I think he showed us what kind of King he will be in that address.
Queen Elizabeth II is dead. Long live the King.