I wasn’t sure if I should write this or not. I’m not really all that relevant a person and nothing I say will be anything that someone else hasn’t said and better.
So it happened. Her Majesty has taken her leave. It should not have come as a surprise. She lived a long life. Reaching 96 is an accomplishment in and of itself. After Phil the Greek passed away last year, it was clear that HM would follow him sooner rather than later. I still remember the picture of her sitting alone, weeping, at his funeral. She continued to do her duty, the most important of which, in her quiet, dignified way was to prepare us for the inevitable.
I watched the King’s Speech. He did well, but it will take some getting used to, saying His Majesty, the King. It will get some getting used to, seeing images of Charles III on coins and banknotes. It will be strange watching Charles III give this year’s Christmas address. I have known no other monarch than Her Majesty. My parents knew no other monarchs. Only my grandparents, three of which are already deceased, could remember a time without her. My nan, the last of the four, was living in Germany during those years and had other things to worry about.
So, all I can say is “thank you, ma’am”. From Cambodia to Italy, from South Africa to Russia people have paid their respects. There is something telling in that throughout the United States flags have been flying at half mast. Even the Irish have, largely, shown grace and respect.
5 thoughts on “Thank you, Ma’am.”
Well, Christopher, you beat me to it. It is much easier, for me, to write a comment than to compose a blog – so thanks.
From what I have been reading, I don’t think Her Maj would have thought you irrelevant at all. And I think that was the key to her success.
I read some fairly famous U.K. politician, whose name eludes me at the moment, say that the Queen took no notice of them on their way up, nor while they were in power, but invited them for tea when they lost office.
I’ve just seen a respected Aboriginal leader and Senator, Pat Dodson, tell the story of his grandfather who met the queen. She asked if he had a question. His grandfather wanted to know if he should have the same rights as other Australians. Apparently she answered that she saw no reason why not. So the grandfather went over the road into the pub and asked for a beer. He was refused – so he repeated what the queen had said and the owner sent across the road to verify the tale. He got his beer… I suspect that was the last he got from that pub – or any other. But the story is a good one.
Not long after that there was a referendum to count aboriginals in the census – and, therefore, as ‘citizens’. I wonder. We know Liz did not ‘interfere’ in politics – but we also know there are many ways of letting one’s feelings known.
Dodson was almost in tears remembering when he and an aboriginal delegation went to meet the Queen in around 1999. He said they were given strict instructions to keep to the point and that they would have 15 minutes – no time to get to know the dogs or have a cup of tea! He couldn’t believe how the Queen dealt with them – he said, stumbling through his emotions, that it was the first time he’d ever been treated as a human being.
I’ve just read about an 8 year old Australian girl who got a letter from the Queen on the day she died. https://www.9news.com.au/national/little-aussie-girl-receives-letter-from-queen-the-day-of-her-passing/0d1ca5f6-bf83-4339-bbe0-a7fcf21e96ce.
We all know that it was her office that sent the letter – but the fact they were instructed to answer such letters says much – well it does to me.
I suspect yours and Cog’s comment and the thousands upon thousands of tributes to her from the voiceless people around the world would have meant more to her than the accolades of the likes of Johnson, Truss, Albanese, Trudeau, Biden, Macron, Putin, and the rest.
The myth of monarchy has always been that they were the champions of the people against the ‘mighty’ of the Realm. The English Peasants who appealed to Richard II in 1381 learnt how wrong they were, as did the Russian people after Bloody Sunday 1905. There are many other examples throughout history – it’s just that I know most about those incidents.
It seems to me that Queen Elizabeth II fulfilled that ‘mythical’ role as no other monarch has ever done before.
As you say, it was quite clear from the time Philip died, Lilibet like so many other widows / widowers, had no wish to live much longer.
I have to admit that I thought at times after Philip died that She should let Charles take over – but it now seems pretty obvious to me that she wanted to ensure a smooth transition of the monarchy: her endorsement of Camilla as future Queen Consort, her taking a back-seat at her Jubilee to promote Charles, William and George as her heirs says to me that she was by then then acting as the ‘temporary custodian’ of the British Monarchy. It was time for her to go – and she went.
I cannot grieve for a life so well spent. I can only rejoice that she did not suffer a decline in her mental faculties – it’s what we all hope for.
I think that Charles III and William V will also fulfil that ‘mythical role’: they are heirs to a remarkable woman.
I’ve written to HM on a handful of occasions. Each time, a response came in reasonable time. The responses were always written by a lady-in-waiting, but there was a sense that HM was informed of the gist of the letters written to her. The replies were always considerate and personal. That is never something I received from an MdB in Germany, a US Senator or Congresscritter. However irritating, my old West Dorset MPs at least attempted a reasonable reply to their credit. Perhaps it is because of her influence?
Some time ago, when women were still barred from driving in Saudi Arabia, HM insisted on driving the Saudi King on one of her estates. It was, for him, an entirely awkward moment made even more awkward by her intentionally driving very, very quickly and making erratic turns. He might not have allowed women to have much of a public life in his own country, but she made it very clear that he was in hers and that he would bloody well respect her.
In many respects, Elizabeth II was fortunate that the times she lived in allowed her a greater hand. George V intervened on behalf of the Irish people following Lloyd-George’s catastrophic response to the Easter Rebellion. George V put a fair amount of pressure on the Indian establishment to get on with the construction of New Delhi as to get the capital out of Calcutta soonest — and away from the old Anglo-Indian gentry whose views of India and Indians were far from enlightened. Much has been made of George V’s inaction on certain abuses in India such as the Amritsar shooting. Mostly, of course, failing to respect the fact that heavy-handed policing was the norm in the early 20th century and that the police who fired on the crowd were, themselves, Indian. For that matter, there is little mention that to this day Indian police will readily resort to psychological abuse and caning in order to “persuade” suspects to “cooperate”. Whenever there’s a car accident in India, people try to flee to avoid being detained by the police for that very reason. Anyway… Edward VII did well, as did Victoria — for their times. A monarch, no matter how capable, will always be constrained by the limitations, prejudices and mores of her/his time. Elizabeth II came to the throne at a time when society had come to expect more fairness and justice.
Even before Prince Philip passed, HM was nudging Charles and William to the front. There were hopes for Harry, but he went colonial and he can lie in the California king bed of his making. HM was deeply impacted by her own father’s sudden death. She was young and poorly prepared for her new position. The public were poorly prepared for his passing. She never moaned about it, but it was clear that it came at a great cost for her. She ensured that Charles would not be put in that position, that we would not be put in that position. After Philip left, she started her gradual goodbye. We saw Charles sitting on the throne in the Lords. We saw the now Prince and Princess of Wales assuming many of the positions that she and Charles had once held.
This has been wrenching, but expected and it has been handled with a quiet dignity, honour and respect. On Friday evening (Pacific Time), I had my weekly chat with Russia. She said that, to a much lesser extent, many Russians know no other leader than the current occupant of his office. The difference is that when the inevitable occurs in Moscow, you will not be seeing the same (near)universal outpouring of love. As I observe America’s decline into fascism in real-time, I can’t help but think that my view that the Treason of 1776 was truly a horrific error has once again been confirmed. Whether young or old, HM was loved and respected. Whether Churchill or Attlee, Thatcher or Blair, PMs were proud of her and they respected her. Other than a few middle-class republicans, people generally were proud of her, they respected her. In the US, the best a president can hope for is that only half the country wants to see the end of his reign. The US is well past that and, now, the only thing a president can hope for is that the opposition won’t seek to destroy him.
Boadicea felt that a little historical evidence might be appropriate. I’m not so sure, but as requested here is a proto-Charioteer in the LScVI (Lower Science sixth), over 60 years ago, chatting earnestly with the delightful Elizabeth II. About three sentences each way. 😎
I only saw the Queen once. It was in 1977 in Wembley stadium for the celebration of the silver jubilee.
I was a lance corporal in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 5RRF, a territorial army battalion. (Please, no Dad’s Army jokes)
I was lucky enough to be selected (only 12 people per battalion) to attend the celebration. We were threatened in the usual red-faced Sergeant Major manner, that as the Queen passed if our eyes moved to follow her, it would be the end of us.
I have three main memories of the event, firstly how beautiful and serene she was, secondly how terrified I was of being spotted as my eyes followed her, as she passed by, and thirdly a similar fear of dropping my rifle (as one poor guy did) during ‘present arms’.
It was only after the inspection that I realised the Sergeant Major would have been locked into ‘eyes front’ too.
Bearsy and Pete Postlethwaite. Separated at Birth.