Thank you, Your Majesty
My Why audio version of this blog available here.
PRESS ASSOCIATION / Danny Lawson
Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth Alexandra May Windsor
21.04.1926 - 08.09.2022
At 12:34pm today, on 8 September 2022, the Royal Family Twitter account released a statement on their website:
"Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen's doctors are concerned for Her Majesty's health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision. The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral."
Immediately we started to have continuous news coverage of events that were unfolding at Balmoral, where the Queen had been residing for the last few weeks (one of her favourite places to be).
It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands. Princess Eugenie
It is incredibly rare for Buckingham Palace to put out statements about the Queen's health, so people knew something was wrong, even though only a mere 48 hours prior she had been at work appointing our new Prime Minister, Liz Truss.
So there was reason for concern and when we heard that her children and grand children were all flying up to Scotland to be with her, I think a lot of the country were worried or on stand-by. The potential imminent death of a monarch of 70 years is no small event for the media to cover.
At 2:15pm I found myself offering up a prayer for her and the family, that she would feel peace whatever her situation and that if she were to die, her family would make it in time to be with her. Then at exactly 2:40pm my attention was drawn to the window when a flash of lightening caught my eye and then there was a single loud clap of thunder. I have no idea if this marked anything happening in the Heavens but I stopped for a second and wondered if she had gone, if maybe it was the marking of the end of a long life and reign (Buckingham Palace haven't released her time of death, so I may always just have to wonder about that).
At 6:30pm Chris, myself and a friend were in the car on the way to Pilates and Chris (in the backseat) who was monitoring twitter for news (journalists are never switched off) announced that the Royal Family had tweeted this:
A statement from His Majesty The King: The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family. We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world. During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.
As I continued to drive, I think we were all in a bit of shock. You may have experienced it yourself, but when the news of any death comes, it rarely feels as you anticipate. There's something about it being said out loud that evokes feelings you didn't fully imagine previously.
On my Pilates mat tonight I just kept thinking about the fact she was no longer around and all the things that would change, those that would be grieving and all that we would experience for the first time in the coming days.
Then later this evening we popped to our local church to help set up for tomorrow where there will be space for people to come and light candles, say prayers, write tributes and pay their respects. All while the flag is flying at half-mast and church bells across the country will ring out.
Indeed, the colour has drained from the UK for a while, and even from the Google logo.
And the royal website is only one page of black, with just her name, an image and the announcement of her death.
In the coming days I have no doubt there will be many creative and wonderful tributes pouring out of grateful hearts. Where there is grief, there was, and is, love. And when love is displaced, we grieve.
Whatever your thoughts on the monarchy, tonight a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother and the leader of a nation has died, and every death, every loss, deserves grief.
Now, there are a lot of people who aren't really for the monarchy, or who are strongly against it even, but now is not a time for those sorts of debates and arguments. As the old adage says, 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all', and now is such a time for these wise words. Those that are mourning aren't just sad because they're pro-monarchy, they are sad because a great life has ended. There are few of us that could have been born into a family where every step of our life was dictated to us, thrown into the job of running a country far earlier than should have been the case, and only thrown in because our uncle chose to abdicate, without whinging constantly about it.
I know of no single formula for success, but over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together. Queen Elizabeth, UN Speech 1957
The Royal Family released "70 facts to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee" and here are some of my favourites:
Longest reigning Monarch in British History
Had 15 Prime Ministers - starting with Winston Churchill
Met 14 Presidents of United States
Met 4 Popes
Visited over 100 countries
Carried out over 21,000 engagements in her reign
Sent over 300,000 congratulatory cards to people celebrating 100th birthdays
Sent over 900,000 messages to couples marking their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversaries
Committed Christian - "For me, the life of Jesus Christ...is an inspiration and an anchor in my life." (2014)
Had more than 30 Corgis and Dorgis (I didn't even know these existed!), most descended from her first Corgi, Susan, who she got when she was 18 years old
Given a black mare in 1969, named Burmese, by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and was ridden by the Queen for Trooping the Colour for 18 consecutive years.
Sent her first email in 1976 sent to US Secretary of Defence
And my absolute favourite fact, that they listed last at number 70:
As part of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, secret agent James Bond escorted The Queen from Buckingham Palace to the Olympic Stadium by helicopter before they both parachuted into the event. Royal.uk
We have had the privilege of being under a leader that has not put our country in danger of war, or fear of death or extreme poverty. One who was devoted to her faith, her people, her husband and family. She was known as the Servant Queen, and as Chris remarked today, the Servant Queen has just met her King of Kings. By this He meant Jesus, but of course she is also reunited with her earthly King (even though we call the husband's of Queen's Prince's, but that's another story, that I actually don't know!). The fact she has died within two years of her beloved Prince Philip is something many people are commenting on as a sign of their bond, and whether true or not, it's such a romantic idea that I'm running with it.
He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know. Queen Elizabeth, 1997
So our country goes into mourning in a way most of us have never seen before, we will see a funeral on a scale we have never witnessed, we will have change, there will be many events cancelled, many planned, many tears, many smiles, we have swapped a male Prime Minister for a new female one, and a Queen for a King, and as we all know as listeners to The Silent Why - 'all change is loss', and all loss must be grieved.
But nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love. Queen Elizabeth II, September 2011
My grandmother once said that grief is the price we pay for love. Here, today, we love… and we grieve. The Duke of Cambridge, March 2011
Rest in peace, Your Majesty, for your peace has been well earned.
I will finish with words from Queen Elizabeth herself:
Today we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right, everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future. It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult. Queen Elizabeth, 25 Dec 1957