Today, regardless of what television station you are watching or what language you are listening to, you cannot fail to come across images of Queen Elizabeth II’s life or funerals.
The world seems mesmerized by the passing of the queen, and Great Britain appears to have come to a silent standstill to pay a last homage to the longest reigning queen in history.
But what makes the world so emotional about the passing of Queen Elizabeth II? Monarchy is a very fragile institution, and some people (including many in England) have often demanded the closing of the Firm.
Some individuals might also have forgotten that monarchs in England (or anywhere else) could be very unpopular. In 1649, king Charles I of England was accused of treason, and later beheaded in a clean single stroke. But monarchy proved resilient in this part of the world and was restored a few years later. And it seems to be here to stay.
Queen Elizabeth was a different person from the usually entitled pretenders. She was not born to reign, and if it would not have been for the recklessness (and the Nazi sympathies) of her uncle (King Edward VIII), she would never have acceded to the throne.
Marion Crawford (her Scottish governess for many years) later wrote a book about Elizabeth and Margaret (disavowed by the Palace) called “The Little Princesses”.
“The book describes Elizabeth’s love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, and her attitude of responsibility. Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as “a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.” Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as “a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved“.
Elizabeth became Queen in 1953, at the very young age of 25. I was then 14, and I remember watching part of her coronation on a black and white television set that had been positioned in an appliance storefront window. At that time, most of the people watching with me never owned a TV set.
Queen Elizabeth lived a charmed life and remained popular for most of her life. She was a trained diplomat and knew how to treat visitors and heads of state alike. Charles de Gaulle, who could be a curmudgeon, also succumbed to her charm, as shown when she visited Paris in 1960.
She could (and she did) always remain above the fray and this helped to preserve her good name and the monarchy.
“I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”
No country in the world or even Hollywood can match England’s expertise when it comes to pomp and pageantry. It has been honed and polished by centuries of tradition and it has reached an almost state of perfection.
You cannot help feeling moved when watching the throngs of people (who sometimes spent the night in their cars) for the privilege of saying a last goodbye to the only queen they ever knew.
Goodbye, Your Majesty, you will be fondly remembered for a long time… and for posthumously boosting the British economy by attracting millions of tourists wishing to purchase various mementos of a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.