The United Kingdom is in shock. The land of my birth is coming to terms with the loss of a national institution following the death of Queen Elizabeth. The end of an era and the start of a new one. In a land torn apart by the Brexit vote and alienation from its closest neighbors in Europe, the Queen was a constant reminder of unity but also of duty and sacrifice, something we have lost in the age of instant gratification and so-called ‘15 minutes’ of fame. A woman her did her job well for over seventy years when as she said herself, ‘I would have preferred a life in the countryside’. An example to us all, whether you agree with the concept of the monarchy or not.
The Queen carried on despite the antics of her close family, who sometimes made life very difficult for her. The Royal scandals have always been there, going back a thousand years but seldom has the pressure on a monarch been as great as they have been the last few years and she didn’t have the option of locking them in the Tower as some of her predecessors did! I truly hope the ‘noise’ from California will lessen after this.
All of the above is common knowledge and you can read it anywhere. Many of the tributes to the Queen have been of a personal nature. Heads of State have waxed lyrical about her humor and duty, dedication to the cause. However, the best tributes I have heard and read are from normal people who briefly came across the Queen in their daily lives on one of her many visits to different places in the world. A small moment when she spent a moment talking to them or receiving a handmade gift. People talk warmly of this moment and how warm and interested she was. Some might ask why that matters but the Queen has always mattered to the British people and many people across the world.
I have my own experience of meeting the Queen twice without really meeting her at all. I lived for a while near Sandringham in Norfolk, UK in the eighties. For those of you who don’t know, there is a Royal palace and horse stud in this area. The Royals were often there and security was massive as you can imagine. That said, the Royals were often seen at that time driving around with their security detail in tow. The journey from Sandringham House to the Stud was a short one. The Stud was where the Queen kept her horses and especially her racehorses.
I used to hike around the lovely lanes and forests in the area and once saw Princess Diana at the wheel of a Range Rover shooting past at great speed, followed by three other cars, trying to keep up. The same happen with the Queen who drove much more carefully. She passed me on the road driving a car with her security detail behind and in front. I stood aside as she drove past and saw her clearly at the wheel despite being told by a police officer on a motorbike to stand back. Later, I saw her riding as I walked past the stud. At least, I think it was her, it was at a distance. I assumed this due to the number of security personnel around.
So that was my brief close memory of Queen Elizabeth. Not much but something. I have always been proud to be British and especially English. It is a country by nature that is tolerant and multicultural and the Queen had a lot to do with that. There are those who would like to see a Republic develop or break up the Union through independence votes, etc but the British people need to be careful what they wish for. Those who talk about the cost of the monarchy often fail to see how much money they generate for the country and they all pay tax on the profits of any businesses they have, in contrast to many British millionaires and billionaires who hide their fortunes elsewhere.
So, Rest In Peace, Your Majesty. I have grown up with you as Head of State and taken inspiration from your work ethic and dedication to duty. We have all ben priviliged.