September 12, 2022
This Weekly reflects on the life of Queen Elizabeth II and pays her tribute. I write this on the evening of Friday, September 8th. We have just departed London for Atlanta, and the flight crew have shared the sad news of the death of the Queen. I cannot help but feel a loss and sadness as this marks the end of an era.
Whether you are a royalist or not, we now mourn the passing of an individual who was one of the last of a great generation. Born on April 21st, 1926, she had just celebrated 70 years on the throne, the longest reign of any British monarch, and the longest of any monarch, save the reign of Louis XIV of France, which lasted just over 72 years.
The Queen was a woman with a job. When she came to the throne, only 26% of British women were in the labor force. By 2021, that number stood at 72%. She presided over a declining British Empire. When she ascended the throne in 1952, she was head of state for 55 overseas territories. By 2021 just 14 of these remained. Despite what some may regard as the disappointing behavior of the next Royal generations, she is universally admired and respected for the way in which she upheld the high standards of her office with dignity and an unstinting sense of duty. At the age of 91 she attended 292 public engagements! She set an example that was admired and respected.
Tributes have been given from around the world as people from all walks of life reflect on her dedication, discipline, resilience, and determination to uphold the standards and role which she inherited at an early age. The Queen’s sense of humor and kindness is a recurrent theme in these tributes. This story told by her former Royal Protection Officer may bring a smile to your face: https://www.businessinsider.in/thelife/news/american-tourists-once-met-the-queen-and-had-no-idea-who-she-was-so-she-played-a-joke-on-them/articleshow/92003693.cms
During her reign, she met with 13 US presidents, five Popes, and 15 Prime Ministers. Even President Vladimir Putin has expressed his “deepest condolences” to King Charles III on the death of his mother. I believe that in a world embroiled in conflicts, crises, and economic challenges, she brought a sense of decency and set high moral standards for all to look up to. She was what her people needed so badly. As distrust in politicians has reached new heights, and the state of the British economy leaves much to be desired, she provided a sense of pride for all that the United Kingdom has stood for. Such is the respect for her that, as the nation mourns, party feuding has temporarily ceased, and planned strikes by the rail and postal unions have been postponed.
The UK now faces a new era. I am not so sure it will be an easy transition for a country that has lost one of its greatest and much-loved leaders.