- Evil Fletcher
I’m a real child of the Elizabethan era. You maybe also.
The reign of the late queen was only four years old when I was born. I vividly remember outdoor primary school assemblies in suburban Melbourne, Australia. Every week, even in winter, we stood to attention for the anthem – when we were still singing God Save the Queen.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II waves as she arrives for the final day of the Cheltenham Festival horse racing meeting in Gloucestershire, west England, Britain, on March 13, 2009. PHOTO: Reuters/Dylan Martinez/File photo.
I clearly remember the picture of the Queen in my high school office and in the public rooms where my friends and I attended kids’ clubs. I have seen different versions of this photo regularly throughout my life. Only now do I realize how many of these photos there must have been, spread across the country and Commonwealth nations.
A similar picture hung on the wall of a civic center in Oxfordshire when, in middle age, I sat my citizenship test and was accepted as a British citizen. I am proud to be a citizen of two of the most blessed and forward-looking nations on the planet, both of which owe a great debt to the Queen.
“As with countless others, the Queen has been a presence throughout my life, an enduring symbol. Of continuity, yes, but more than that. She also represented hope, resilience and commitment to service. Am I a monarchist I guess I am, but I am an Elizabethan monarchist I believe in monarchy as Elizabeth II represented it.
Earlier this year, I lost my beloved mother. Thinking of her now, I’m sure she was inspired and influenced by a monarch who was only a few years older than her. As a young woman, my mother lost her own mother to cancer. She became the rock of trust for her younger sisters and her brother. I wonder now who she turned to in her moments of uncertainty. Who were his role models? She was by nature a very private person, so who did she turn to for advice?
Perhaps, in a way, the distant queen offered a model of resilience under pressure, having lost her father not long before. If indeed my mother took some cues from the Queen, she was among millions of others around the world who did the same.
Like countless others, the Queen has been a presence throughout my life, an enduring symbol. Continuity, yes, but more than that. She also represented hope, resilience and commitment to service. Am I a monarchist? I guess so, but I’m an Elizabethan monarchist. I believe in the monarchy as Elizabeth II represented it.
Although she ascended the throne in the final days of the British Empire, she soon realized that this was a ship that had already sailed. Yet she believed Britain still had a major role among the nations and could do so through the Commonwealth. If there was a public cause dear to the Queen’s heart, it was this one. Thanks to this, she turned out to be a renowned political figure.
The Queen has played her role as constitutional monarch very well. We saw her as aloof from the political fray while firmly holding the helm of the ship of state. We know very little about his position on government policies. I think we can be sure, however, that the 14 prime ministers who met with her every week knew if she was “not amused” by certain decisions they had made. (Her 15th UK Prime Minister has only met her once – this week.)
On occasions when the Queen had a very private disagreement with British policy – for example, over her refusal to sanction apartheid South Africa – she made sure things were slightly different at the Commonwealth level. It’s eye-opening to read about some of his behind-the-scenes actions — and non-actions — that led to change on issues close to his heart.
Historians will judge the Queen’s record reign by events. We will remember her in our hearts. How many times in the past few hours have we heard phrases like “mother of the nation” used to describe her?
In 2015, when Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest-serving monarch, a Sky poll suggested that 70% of Britons thought their country should remain a monarch ‘forever’. It was probably largely because of people’s love for the queen. A YouGov survey conducted ahead of Jubilee found she was “liked” by 75% of the population. (She was “hated” by only 9% and only 13% were “indifferent” to her.)
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Of course, the future will tell if the monarchy remains a popular, even tolerated, institution. If not, it won’t be because Britain hasn’t seen the best it has to offer.
There have been times when this nation – and others for whom the Queen was head of state – had reason to complain about ‘the Royal Family’. But with the possible exception of the events immediately following Princess Diana’s death, as far as we know, the Queen was not a party to the cause of the complaint. Instead, she played the role of peacemaker while fiercely protecting the monarchy.
The affection people feel is a response to personal qualities as well as professional attributes. For me, the most important thing was softness. I know, it’s not a quality we talk about a lot these days. It wasn’t even popular when Queen started out – partly because the word sweetness is often misunderstood.
PREVIOUSLY: Essay: The Queen – Visibility (online) with restraint
It does not refer to weakness, whether of character or ability. On the contrary: he speaks of controlled force. It is the ability to recognize that even our greatest strengths must be surrendered to something greater than ourselves. Her Majesty, it seems to me, understood that even as Queen she had to give up the authority it gave her, both to God and to public service.
Unlike many of her predecessors, the Queen viewed people not as her subjects but as citizens and human beings to whom she owed a debt of service. She saw her role as one of stewardship, not just of an institution, but of the best interests of her fellow travelers throughout life.
“The meek shall inherit the earth,” said Christ. The queen is proof of that, as she has captured the hearts of the world. Even Russian President Putin, who is certainly not on good terms with the British at the moment, paid tribute to him. The Queen did so, however, without allowing herself to become ‘anyone’s doormat’. She showed humility and selflessness alongside strength. It is sweetness.
That the Queen was for so long the object of public affection speaks to her personal resilience and determination, as well as her sense of public duty, underpinned by her faith. She has always seen her role as a vocation rather than a profession. She will be remembered not just for the position she held, but for the person she was. Elizabeth the Great.
Mal Fletcher is a social futurist, social commentator and lecturer and chairman of 2030Plus, a London-based think tank. He has studied global social trends for over 25 years and speaks to civic leaders around the world on issues related to socio-cultural ethics and values, PESTLE analysis, civic leadership, emerging and future technologies. , social media, generational change and innovation. First published at 2030Plus.com. Copyright Mal Fletcher, 2022.
Mal Fletcher is a member of the Eyesight Advisory Board.