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The Queen: Farewell, Our Noble Queen

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The Queen: Farewell, Our Noble Queen

As Kings and Queens, world leaders, young and old, poor and rich, paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her death aged 96 on Thursday, September 8th, ordinary people in Britain and around the globe paid their own respects to a woman who had been the face of her nation for more than 70 glorious years.

The death of Her Majesty will leave not only the people of Britain bereft but the world as a whole. She was a symbol of unity and stability. Her legacy is one to last the ages – she was a monarch but she was so much more. A woman who touched generations with humility and humour and with her steadfast duty to family and country.

The Queen has stood strong through it all: countless political upheavals, royal scandals, national tragedies, and, most recently, a global pandemic. She has been a constant through the chaos of both national and personal lives. Right to the end, she never wavered in her relentless dedication to duty. 

On a rainy London night, thousands gathered outside Buckingham Palace, in central London, some laying floral tributes outside the black iron gates. There were similar scenes outside the queen’s Windsor Castle home. Black cabs lined up outside the palace to pay homage to the Queen.

People react to the news of the Queen’s death outside Buckingham Palace

Portraits of Elizabeth were posted on billboard screens in central London’s Piccadilly Circus and the city’s Canary Wharf financial district, and also across the Atlantic in New York’s Times Square. Flowers were laid outside the British Consulate General in New York. 

In Berlin, flowers and candles were laid outside the British Embassy, while in Venice “God Save the Queen”, the British national anthem, was played outside the Italian city’s Festival Buildings. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark at the stroke of midnight in a tribute to the Queen.

It is unsurprising, whether we are royalists or not, that many of us mourn for this woman we likely never had the good fortune to meet. The Queen dedicated her life to her people, her familiar presence so reassuring to many. She was part of us all, stitched into the DNA of modern Britain.

England’s cricket team observed a moment of silence before day three of the Test match against South Africa at The Oval

It is said that many years ago, Her Majesty the Queen and her daughter, Princess Anne, were being driven down the Mall from Buckingham Palace in her official car, with no number plate, when a young fresh looking police officer pulled it over. In his haste to book the driver, the rookie had failed to notice the royal insignia on the roof. Ignoring the driver’s frantic gestures to warn him that someone important was in the back of the car, the policeman took out his notebook and ploughed on. 

In the back, meanwhile, the Queen and Princess Anne, tactfully, slid off their seats onto the floor of the car, so they were out of sight. Finally, the policeman peered through the window at the back seat. He couldn’t see anyone. But the driver was insistent, so, he pressed his face against the glass and found himself eyeball to eyeball with the familiar and unmistakable face of his sovereign. In that instant, his dearest wish was granted: he vanished into thin air and was neither seen nor heard of again. The Queen had a delightful and, at times, playful sense of humour – she was a talented mimic, she sang, she danced, she loved parlour games – but that side of her was generally reserved for family and people who knew her well. 

Thank you for all the years

After her uncle’s abdication in 1939, which thrust her father, the Duke of York, ill-equipped as he was, into the top job, her dream of living quietly as a countrywoman surrounded by dogs and horses, vanished as surely as that policeman in the Mall. 

Her Majesty

From that day on, her life was no longer her own. She would follow in her father’s footsteps and say goodbye to so many of the freedoms that we all take for granted. Sadly, Queen Elizabeth is someone we will not meet again, but her values and her love of Britain and the Commonwealth will live on in her heirs.

Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola

London, UK

teejayok@gmail.com