Written by Dr George Gross
There is no one around to remember the passing of Queen Victoria and yet in many respects we are experiencing the same tremendous sense of shock and sadness that our forbears did in 1901. The longest reigning monarch in our history, respected, admired, loved and revered across the globe. A face recognisable from our postage stamps to innumerable works of art and media screens.
Queen Elizabeth II and the second Elizabethan age saw dramatic change across our country and in the whole world. Throughout it all she embodied the very best of British – and an example of service, loyalty and stoicism and of commitment to causes that matter.
The remarkable footage of ‘The Unseen Queen’ released as part of this Jubilee year, highlighted how humour, laughter, family, friendship and commemoration have united us all in one way or another as human beings going back centuries. She has been a fixture in our lives throughout those moments of celebration and of sadness, and as the Prime Minister has said – a rock on which this country has prospered.
The Commonwealth was a crucial part of her life and legacy. It was central to her 2022 Jubilee celebrations and the strength of that organisation was further seen in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year – watched and supported by millions across our planet. Queen Elizabeth II saw that family of nations as a cherished and vital organization – and she championed the institution throughout her life in her capacity and role as Head of the Commonwealth.
As we stop to reflect on a truly remarkable life of service – beginning in her time with her first Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1952 as Britain finally left rationing behind and memories of World War II, she brought us into a new golden age, that we must strive to carry forward.
She was a monarch of constancy, and so our shock is all the more – her devotion to duty an inspiration that will endure.
‘They’re changing the guard at Buckingham Palace’, so said Christopher Robin – a new era begins and our late Queen has handed the baton to her son King Charles III – Vivat Rex. May he ‘long’ reign over us as we face the next challenges ahead.
Le roi est mort, vive le roi! *
*historical context is French 13th-14th century. Because French was the language of the English court it was quickly adopted. With the crusades and Monarchs abroad, this was used to avoid the risk of succession questions (although they still happened anyway!)