Ian Lloyd marks the passing of our longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II . . .
It was the news none of us wanted to hear.
It wasn’t a shock in the way that Diana’s death was, but the sadness was just as profound. The Queen had always been there for us, as strong and resilient as Windsor Castle itself. The end had to come, as it did for her mother and husband. If there is one consolation for her family and for the nation it is that she lived to a great age and was active almost until the end.
It is astonishing to think when she became Queen in February 1952, it was only six and a half years after the end of World War II in the Far East. Elizabeth was 25 at the time, by coincidence the same age as the first Elizabeth. She once said “It’s all to do with training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained”.
By Her Side
For sixty-five years she was often accompanied by Prince Philip, the man she called ‘my strength and stay.’ Whether it was the State Opening of Parliament or the opening a factory in Clydeside, it was usually ‘in the presence of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.’
Her youth and her stamina gave her the energy to carrying out arduous tours overseas in all climates. The Coronation tour of 1953-1954 took her away from home and children Charles and Anne for six months. She toured Canada on 22 occasions, Australia 16, New Zealand 10 and Jamaica 6 times.
Her public appearances were just the tip of the iceberg when it came to her role. She also had to deal with her daily red government boxes.
Through Dark Days
The Queen led the United Kingdom through its darkest hours from the Korean War through to the Covid epidemic of recent years. When she spoke people listened. Her broadcasts helped to unite the country. Whether it was in the aftermath of Diana’s death or her stirring message that “we will meet again” as Coronavirus took hold.
She maintained high standards. In the manner she treated world leaders. Or the interest she showed in all those she met at a palace investiture or a garden party. She always dressed like a Queen from her early, glamorous days embroidered gowns, glittering jewels and (now unfashionable) furs to her later years when her dresser Angela Kelly created memorable matching ensembles of hats, coats and dresses.
We will miss her reassuring presence, her stiff-upper lip bearing, her deadpan wit and the twinkle she had in her eye when she was amused. Above all we will miss her for simply always being there for us.
Read Ian’s piece celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday.