With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the world has lost one of the few remaining members of the “Greatest Generation,” as journalist Tom Brokaw called them. People who were born between 1900 through the 1920s, who lived through the Great Depression, and many who fought during World War II. They were a generation that understood sacrifice and honor; their word was their bond, and they were as interested in the wellbeing of others as much, and sometimes more than their own.
Queen Elizabeth II was a member of this generation, and she had a big hand in shaping our world.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor came to power in a very different world from the one she died in, but for seven decades, the world could count on her as a resilient constant. Yes, she had her missteps—her tardy response to Diana’s death and what she called her “annus horribilis”— but overall, they haven’t detracted from the 96 years this amazing woman loved and served in the eye of public scrutiny.
I can’t imagine how she must have felt, becoming queen at 25 years old, and soon after, meeting the formidable British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. By all accounts, they developed a lifelong friendship, and he tutored her on the complexities of the constitutional monarchy, politics, and the law. He helped shape her into the wise and respected monarch she became.
In a prayer service, yesterday, at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Bishop of London said “During her coronation almost 70 years ago, the young queen was anointed before God with sesame and olive oil, containing orange flowers, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, and musk, and her life was set apart for the service of others. A life in the service of others is a rare jewel; a jewel her Majesty wore as her crown. Her life in service was not something she could pick up and put down again. It was deeply embedded in her understanding of herself.”
How many of us could have sacrificed so much?
Like a great many countries, Great Britain has been increasingly divided by political upheaval and a changing roster of prime ministers, but through it all, the Queen continued to be a unifying figure. Regardless of how the British people feel about continuing the monarchy, they have an overwhelming admiration for Elizabeth the woman. Queen Elizabeth II was the human and personal embodiment of the people and the pride in the traditions of Great Britain.
At the end of Saint Paul’s prayer service, the congregation sang the British National Anthem with the noticeable change of one word: God Save the King. This patriotic song dates back to 1745 and became the National Anthem at the beginning of the 19th century. I can’t imagine the stalwart British people taking a knee and refusing to sing it. Even among great divides, they still revere patriotism and respect for their country and their leaders, and sadly, there is so little of that left in the world.
After 9/11, Queen Elizabeth sent a letter to the American people that said, “I’m with you in your grief. That is the price of love.” I know many of us around the world share in her country and her family’s grief at the loss of this amazing woman.
Thank you Brenda for such a thoughtful post. She will be greatly missed.
I appreciate that you read my post and left me a comment. Thank you, Judy!
Amen. Well said.
Thank you, sweet lady! xoxox, Brenda
Beautiful words. May she rest in peace.
Thank you, Kixmiller. Brenda
QE lived as an exemplary model of devotion and obedience to her vows that is seldom seen today. The world has lost a great and most serene woman…may we all strive to live up to a wee bit of her courage and strength in our own lives. RIP dear woman.
Lovely comment, Patricia! Yes, she had a serene sense about her. Thank you so much. Brenda
Beautifully said Brenda. I would love to know what she thought about the changing mores through the years, particularly after Vietnam and 911 and now with suicide bombers and an America that lacks so much of what she stood for.
I wonder that as well Connie. Television commentators have said she never let us see how she felt about things other than on the surface. What an amazing life she led. Wouldn’t you have loved a memoir from her? xoxo, Brenda
SHE IS IRREPLACEABLE.
HER SON WILL CARRY ON AS WILL HER GRANDSON!
I wholeheartedly agree, Elizabeth. She taught them well by example. xoxox, Brenda
I dislike the term “spunk” but Queen Elizabeth had it in spades. She was a bit of a Tomboy, riding, changing flat tires and serving in the war effort before she became queen. I like women with spunk and you’re one of these women as well Brenda. I admire you and thank you for this beautiful post about the Queen.
I’m reminded of a Mary Tyler Moore episode when Mr. Grant told Mary she had spunk, and he followed it with, “I hate spunk!.” Thank you, Della, for the wonderful compliment. xoxox, Brenda
You’re welcome and thank you for reading and leaving me a comment.
Yes, you expressed my feelings and admiration so well. She was a bulwark of stability and grace in turbulent times not just for Britain but the world. I have vague memories of watching her coronation on a small black and white television. My mother was English and we always paused to hear Her Majesty’s Christmas address to her people and then we raised our glass to her and toasted. I am glad her passing was peaceful and I hope King Charles will continue in her footsteps.
Penelope, What a wonderful tradition to be able to listen to her Christmas message every year. Whether she or anything about Great Britain was in the news, she was always an ever-present landmark the world could check and measure themselves against. And I’m sad to say, we all fell short of her stability and grace. Well said! Thank you, Brenda
Thank you. I am English and was at Buckingham Palace today, very close to the main gate. I saw the King return. Everyone I spoke with thought highly of the Queen, despite their views on the Monarchy.
She did her job well and did us proud. I am sure the King will too.
What an amazing experience, Amanda! I would love to have been there with you. People, egos, styles, and behavior seem to be sinking to the lowest common denominator. To me, the Monarchy represents manners, tradition, things we might think about aspiring to… Class… and I don’t mean one that’s better or higher than another class, but a decorum, elegance, and regard for life we see all to rarely now. Thank you for this great insight, Brenda
Such an emotional week for everyone. I’m not British, but I found myself shedding some tears at the loss of this remarkable woman. What must it like to have been Queen?
Arlo, I teared up as well. The world has such an intense curiosity about the royal family, arms length most of the time, but with the Queen’s death, we were able to experience a small bit of what they were feeling. Thank you, Brenda
I grew up with Tom Brokaw. I think highly of him, and his words that you shared are so true. I feel we’ve lost so many ways of being along the way.
I also enjoyed reading what your view points are. I don’t think we will ever see anyone ever again like Queen Elizabeth. She was a “rock.” Even up to a few days of her passing she greeted Liz Truss the new Prime Minister. It had to be one of the most challenging last few days of her life. I shall never forget her dressed so well in her kilt.
Queen Elizabeth always had such “soft power.” You don’t have to be a bull in a China shop to lead. She did everything with elegance and Grace. She always looked gorgeous with such beautiful blue eyes and a genuine smile. One I shall never forget.
Thanks again for all you have to share.
Oh, Katherine, I love what you wrote about Queen Elizabeth. “Soft power.” I call it “soft steel.” It had to be hard for her to meet with the new Prime Minister. She wasn’t feeling well and the blue/black on the back of her righthand tells me she could have had IVs there. Perhaps fluids to help hydrate her and keep her comfortable if she was in pain. She knew the scoop better than anyone and that’s so brave. Her smile was genuine and she had a twinkle in her eyes, and I’m betting she knew this might be the last photograph taken of her and she wanted to shine. That’s grace. A lesson for us all. I, too, grew up with Tom Brokaw, not personally although I’ve met him, and I miss him on the news. Thank you for reading my blogs and leaving me a comment. I appreciate you! Brenda