Queen Elizabeth was a symbol of stability - Hindustan Times
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Queen Elizabeth was a symbol of stability

Sep 24, 2022 06:23 PM IST

Queen Elizabeth succeeded because she was aware that she had to do her duty, and more often than not that meant keeping quiet.

Immense, unparalleled, historic — the words rolled off the tongues of journalists describing the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II this week — as her coffin mounted on a gun carriage, pulled by 42 white-capped navy ratings, entered Westminster Abbey in London.

In the end, the 12 days of mourning were a gathering of the Queen’s people to give thanks for a reign of nearly 70 years. She had seen the winds of change sweep away the British Empire, the church accepting women bishops and divorce becoming accepted practice. She held weekly talks with Britain’s first three women prime ministers. (REUTERS) PREMIUM
In the end, the 12 days of mourning were a gathering of the Queen’s people to give thanks for a reign of nearly 70 years. She had seen the winds of change sweep away the British Empire, the church accepting women bishops and divorce becoming accepted practice. She held weekly talks with Britain’s first three women prime ministers. (REUTERS)

This was the start of the funeral of the longest-reigning monarch of Britain. The procession passed from Westminster to Windsor, which the Queen regarded as her home. There, she was buried in the vaults underneath the chapel alongside her husband throughout her reign, the Duke of Edinburgh, her father and mother and the ashes of her sister, Princess Margaret.

The funeral started at 11 am and went on until 7:30 pm when the family gathered in the vault. During the ceremonies, some 4,000 British and Commonwealth men and women marched in procession accompanied by military bands and pipers from Scotland. During the Westminster Abbey service, the first biblical extract was beautifully read by Lady Scotland, the secretary of the Commonwealth and the second by the new Prime minister Liz Truss flatly, possibly reflecting her exhaustion after the heated competition she faced to win the leadership of the Conservative Party.

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in his sermon in the Abbey, “The grief of this day — felt not only by the late Queen’s family but all round the nation, Commonwealth and world — arises from her abundant life and loving service, now gone from us.” The world was represented by royalty and other foreign leaders, including the President of India, Droupadi Murmu. The Queen’s devotion to the Commonwealth was stressed throughout the ceremonies. She saw to it that Charles should succeed her as head of the Commonwealth. He will have to manage it skillfully to hold the 54 countries together.

Queen Elizabeth succeeded because she was aware that she had to do her duty, and more often than not that meant keeping quiet.

Princes Harry and Andrew, clad in civilian suits rather than military uniforms, one because he had removed himself from the family and the other because he had been stripped of honorary ranks, was a symbol of the problems Queen Elizabeth had to face in silence and keep on with her job.

In sharp contrast to the Queen, Charles has publicly avowed causes, such as the environment and the climate crisis. Charles has admitted that as king, he will have to keep his mouth shut, often while aching to speak.

But indeed, for Britain, for India and the rest of the world, the most profound gift the Queen gave was the gift of bringing people together. That gift was shown by the thousands who came to say goodbye to her. They came from all parts of the country and from abroad. And, they came at a time when Scotland is considering independence and the future of Northern Ireland is uncertain.

In the end, the 12 days of mourning were a gathering of the Queen’s people to give thanks for a reign of nearly 70 years. She had seen the winds of change sweep away the British Empire, the church accepting women bishops and divorce becoming accepted practice. She held weekly talks with Britain’s first three women prime ministers.

The last one, Truss, talked to the Queen just before she died. For the rest of the world, Queen Elizabeth stood as a symbol of stability in unsettled and unsettling times. The President of India described her as a “stalwart” leader, President Emannuel Macron of France said, “that she embodied” a “sense of eternity”.

The views expressed are personal

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