HM Queen Elizabeth II - 1926-2022
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
Queen Elizabeth II, 1947
The news of the death of our Queen is so very sad. At 96 it can not be said to be unexpected but nevertheless it feels very personal to so many people in Britain and across the World.
The Queen ascended to the throne at a time of great optimism. The war had ended some seven years previously and, whilst rationing would continue until 1954, the spirit of the time was positive and our young Queen embodied the hopes of the coming generation.
The philosopher Sir Roger Scruton wrote in England: An Elegy -
"The constitutional monarchy is the light above politics, which shines down on the human bustle from a calmer and more exalted sphere. Not being elected by popular vote, the monarch cannot be understood as representing the interests only of the present generation. He or she is born into the position, and also passes it on to a legally defined successor. The monarch is in a real sense the voice of history, and the very accidental way in which the office is acquired emphasises the grounds of the monarch's legitimacy, in the history of a place and a culture. This is not to say that kings and queens cannot be mad, irrational, self-interested or unwise. It is to say, rather, that they owe their authority and their influence precisely to the fact that they speak for something other than the present desires of present voters, something vital to the continuity and community which the act of voting assumes. Hence, if they are heard at all, they are heard as limiting the democratic process, in just the way that it must be limited if it is to issue in reasonable legislation. It was in such a way that the English conceived their Queen, in the sunset days of Queen Victoria. The sovereign was an ordinary person, transfigured by a peculiar enchantment which represented not political power but the mysterious authority of an ancient 'law of the land'. When the monarch betrays that law - as, in the opinion of many, the Stuarts betrayed it - a great social and spiritual unrest seizes the common conscience, unrest of a kind that could never attend the misdemeanours of an elected president, or even the betrayal of trust by a political party."
He further suggests that the monarch links the living, the dead and the unborn in a manner not possible by an elected head of state. Perhaps this is why, to me and others, her passing feels so very personal. Born after the Queen ascended to the throne I have known no other monarch. In my case the Queen reigned during the lifetime of my grandfather, my parents and my children and after 70 years of service she was undoubtedly the matriarch of our Nation and the Commonwealth.
With her departure there is a deep sense of foreboding across the country. Having commenced her reign at a time of great optimism she leaves the stage at a time of great pessimism. That rock which we imagined would last forever has gone and we feel bereft. That our new King can or will be that rock remains to be seen and I for one have my doubts. Our finest monarchs have all been women of amazing strength and character. Yet we must, for the sake of our nation, pray for our King during our troubled times ahead.
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