As the longest reigning Monarch in British history, her death leaves a huge hole in national life. For 69 years she has been a constant presence in the midst of massive economic and societal change. She is loved and revered by the vast majority of the UK because of her sense of duty. She was only 14 when she made her first national radio address in 1940 during the second World War II to give a message of support to children affected by the war. She was always thinking of others. Only days ago she appointed her 16th Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In 1953 she was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom as a young 27 year old after the passing of her father, King George VI. By her side was Prince Phillip of Edinburgh, her husband of 6 years. He was her rock for 73 years until his death last year. For the first time cameras entered Westminster Abbey to record this historic event. Millions of people crowded round their newly bought TV sets to watch their new Queen. This was the moment that changed TV and made the monarch seem accessible.
All of her children were at her bedside, as were her grandchildren for her last moments.
The baton now passes to Prince Charles who is the longest serving heir apparent in British History. He will take the crown as the King of the United Kingdom with his wife, Camilla, by his side.
With the passing of the Queen we see a change of the guard. This is what will fill many people with dread. Part of the Queen’s appeal and her foundation was her Christian faith. She held the title ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’. These titles date back to the reign of King Henry VIII, who was initially granted the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ in 1521, by Pope Leo X. Her son, Prince Charles, is very different. He does not share her Christian faith. In fact this moment could also witness the end of the Church of England as the state church. The new king will not see any value in an established church as he does not share the same view as millions of Christians.This is a day of great change in British society.
Prince Charles has also acted more like a politician and a campaigner than a future King, Queen Elizabeth II was well known for holding her opinions to herself and these were only shared in private. She did not push any agenda but was there to represent all her subjects whatever their views or beliefs. Her strong faith brought confidence and hope to many in the UK and abroad.
The Queen’s life spanned 14 US Presidents and 16 British Prime Ministers. Maybe of less importance are the 30 Corgis she has owned. She loved her dogs (Corgis) and her great passion was horses. She would be a regular face at Ascot, often watching her own horses race.
Britain will now go into a period of mourning. We face a time of economic crisis with a brand new Prime Minister. Yet the nation will stop and pause and remember. What lies ahead is the unknown and a future that, suddenly, is less certain. One line from her Christmas Broadcast of 2014 will forever stand out. During the short address she said “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life”.
A life well lived is what many of us hope for and the life of Her Majesty the Queen is an example to us all. Long live the King.