In the very short time since the passing of our Queen, as we’ve been leading up to her funeral, I’m sure your emotions, like mine, have been going through huge fluctuations: from initial shock and utter disbelief to great sadness but also acceptance. And, as we’ve been glued to the obituaries and retrospectives on different aspects of her reign on television, I have also been flooded with overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude for having been born and lived during the new Elizabethan era with a once-in-history head of state.
We knew it before, of course, but the outpouring of national grief we’ve witnessed for our Queen has confirmed how truly remarkable she was and the very deep affection the vast majority of us felt for her. As The Queen herself said back in 2001: "Grief is the price we pay for love." And I do think what we’ve experienced is the kind of love we hold for family.
Our Queen was someone who was so familiar to us: there in our living rooms on Christmas Day each year, there on the front of every letter we sent, there to host every big national occasion – a part of the fabric of our lives. I’ve heard it estimated that The Queen met some 3 million people during her reign, but even for those of us who never had that honour, she meant something to us; we felt we knew her.
Over the past week a lot of my team have been opening up about their feelings of connection with The Queen – everything from those with a shared passion for dogs and the countryside to those who adore Scotland as a holiday destination – and every person reading this will also have their own reflections. For me, I particularly admired The Queen for her sense of duty and dedication – she really was the ultimate role model for working women.
Looking through many of her speeches over the past week, I was particularly struck by these words from her Christmas broadcast some 56 years ago, in 1966, when she addressed the challenges faced by women in the UK. "It is difficult to realise that it was less than 50 years ago that women in Britain were first given the vote, but parliament was first asked to grant this 100 years ago. Yet, in spite of these disabilities, it has been women who have breathed gentleness and care into the harsh progress of mankind." Our Queen, a thoughtful feminist.
As a horse lover and rider myself, I’ve also always been in awe of The Queen’s passion for horses and her brilliant equestrian skills. Looking at footage of when The Queen stayed mounted (side saddle of all things!) at the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony when blank shots were fired at her is a reminder of just how accomplished she was. Meanwhile, as recently as June this year, she was seen out riding, demonstrating that age was not going to get in the way of her favourite pastime.
There are so many other ways we’ll remember our Queen in the coming months and years, from the light-hearted (starring with Bond to open the 2012 Olympic Games) to the serious (addressing the nation at times of war and loss), but I particularly think we will remember with fondness the celebrations of her Platinum Jubilee this year.
The festivities in June were spectacular and we must take comfort from how much they were appreciated by the woman they celebrated. "I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee. While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all. I have been inspired by your kindness, joy and kinship that has been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come."
P.S. I would love to hear what The Queen meant to you – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’d like to share your thoughts.
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