On Thursday, 8th September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at Balmoral, her Scottish estate, after reigning for 70 years. Even though her health issues over the last few years were public knowledge, nobody was ready for the swift end to her reign. Rumours emerged around midday that doctors monitoring the Queen were becoming more concerned about her health. An official announcement confirmed that she was "under medical supervision", and her children were called up to Balmoral for one last time.
At 6:30 PM, the news that the UK and the Commonwealth dreaded was confirmed. Queen Elizabeth II had passed away, although the details of her medical condition have not yet been released. The country is in mourning; the one constant in the lives of many UK and Commonwealth citizens has suddenly been taken from us. The grief is palpable; messages of condolence flood in from around the globe, and many are shocked, still unable to take in the enormity of events.
On 21st April 1926, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Mayfair, London, unaware that she would later become the UK's longest-serving monarch. Next in line, she took the throne in 1952, at the tender age of 25, after the sudden death of her father. However, the Queen was destined for greatness from an early age. Even as she celebrated her 21st birthday, the then Princess Elizabeth was fully aware of her responsibilities. In a moving speech from Cape Town, she told the then Empire, now the Commonwealth:
"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service."
Good to her word, she remained on the throne until her death at the age of 96 and fulfilled her promise to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and the Commonwealth. Overall, the Queen worked with 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill in 1952 to Liz Truss earlier this week. Able to maintain an unbiased approach to politics while offering her knowledge and experience to help the sitting Prime Minister, her assistance in this area is often unrecognised.
Regardless of her political role, for many of us the Queen has always been there as our head of state. She’s all many of us have ever known. I’ve lost count of the number of people I know who have been born, lived and died all while Her Majesty was on the throne. That reassuring presence that has always been there with us, addressing us every Christmas Day and through times of crisis, most recently during the Covid-19 pandemic, is no longer there.
The BBC website has described Her Majesty’s death as the moment history stopped, which feels like a perfect framing of how many of us feel right now.
The death of her beloved husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on 9th April 2021, was a bitter blow to the Queen. Her Majesty's foundations were shaken to the core. This was a man she first met in 1939 and later married in 1947, enjoying 73 years of marriage before his death. While many believe the death of Prince Philip was a catalyst for some of the Queen's health issues, she continued to put her country before her personal needs.
Only a few days before her death, she had been determined to carry out the appointment of Liz Truss as Prime Minister. However, on Wednesday, the Queen could not take a virtual meeting of the Privy Council after being advised to rest on doctor's orders. Her condition worsened overnight, leading to grave concerns about the Queen's health on Thursday morning and her sad passing.
Queen Elizabeth II was knowledgeable, experienced, humorous, considerate, and a formidable force of nature. From a personal perspective, and that of others of older generations who looked up to the Queen from a young age, you think they are invincible and will always be around. While King Charles III has taken the throne, many people wake up today with a less certain future, confused, upset, and missing their constant confidant.
In recent times, the former Prince of Wales took on more of his mother's official roles before his eventual appointment as King. At the ripe old age of 73, and still mourning the loss of his beloved mother, King Charles III will take on the responsibility of the throne.
Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral will be a global affair, the largest of its kind and, in the eyes of many, a perfect tribute to this wonderful lady.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II may be gone, but she will never be forgotten by anyone who lived during her reign.
She was a leader of men, women and children and a lady who put country before her own life.
We will be forever grateful.