As many around the world pay their respects and mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, it is also clear that there are a great many who find justifiable fault in the age-old institution of monarchy. For all that’s seemingly good; the dark side of colonialism, of privilege and status, has cast a long shadow of ugliness. And it seems that as we enter this new era, the most seismic shift in the British establishment in over 70 years, there’s a desire from many for transparency, open discourse, and eventual systemic change.
All sides have relevant points to make, and it’s a conversation long overdue. But before all this is to take place, I believe it’s prudent and of great value to look at what strengths we can recognize in Her Majesty as a human being, and consider her many virtues we can all appreciate, and indeed benefit from or adopt. Here at Mr Feelgood, since our inception, it has been our prime mission to study, share, and celebrate all things that can inspire and support leading a fuller and more substantial life, and in considering the traits and actions of the Queen, we see she possessed many steadfast qualities that align with those principles.
In 1947, on the occasion of her 21st birthday, then a princess, she gave a radio address whilst on tour in South Africa where she spoke of moving “forward together with an unwavering faith, a high courage and a quiet heart,” words that seemed to be a blueprint for accepting the destiny that lay before her. At 25 years old, following the death of her beloved father, she stepped up to the plate ascending the throne and solemnly committing her entire life to serve the commonwealth as the figurehead to its 2.5 billion citizens. Perhaps she may have preferred a far quieter life, surrounded by the animals that she loved so much, but fate had her born into a position that demanded much more, and she understood and accepted the gravity of such responsibility, always doing so with grace.
Throughout her long and distinguished life, she has seen and adjusted to massive global change, never shrinking from the challenges both she and her subjects faced — in war, in peace, in uprisings and during political strife and unrest, she has remained stalwart in her commitment to service. She has been flawless and indefatigable in leading by example, always striving to do her very best to console, encourage, and to act as a unifying symbol to rally a country and a commonwealth, sometimes in distress. On the world stage and in private, she has met and advised more global leaders than any other luminary, never publicly voicing her own preferences, never abusing nor overstepping her position (which holds no constitutional power), a consistent example of stoic respect and restraint, complimented by her oft-noted quick sense of humor and deft ability to put all at ease.
She has endured the public scrutiny of unwanted personal dramas involving her children and her family, and like many of us, faced the disfunction and trials of contemporary life. Perhaps most remarkable for me though was in 2012, witnessing her personal fortitude in reaching out her hand to Martin McGuinness, former leader of the IRA, a historic gesture and a giant step forward in the peace process relating to the British rule of Northern Ireland. It was a momentous sign of reconciliation 14 years after the end of the conflict, one that claimed over 3500 lives, including that of the Queen’s supposed favorite cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, slain in an IRA bombing. She exercised this with a smile, eye contact, and out of a knowingness that went way beyond her personal grievance.
There is much to be admired about a life well lived. No matter your opinion of the Monarchy, as an individual Queen Elizabeth II was consistent in her actions, in her selflessness, in the promise within and to the world that she would devote wholeheartedly what time she had on this earth in working towards the betterment of all. Her’s was a life of impenetrable faith, of service and of unwavering duty, to a degree to which we may never see again, but one that will remain forever in the annals of history and inspire for generations to come.
Thank you Your Majesty
May you Rest In Peace