Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

Published: 9/9/2022 | Updated: 9/9/2022

Queen Elizabeth II ruled longer than any Monarch in British history and was respected and loved by many. In her extraordinary reign of 70 years she kept a devoted heart to the people of the Commonwealth, always putting her life of service above all else first.

Regarded as one of the most important and admired figureheads of our time, Elizabeth became Queen at the tender young age of 25 following her fathers death, King George VI on 6th February 1952.

The Coronation

Following a period of mourning, The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh moved into their new home at Buckingham Palace where royal duties and preparation for the Queen's coronation began.

Elizabeth's grandmother, Mary, sadly passed away ten days prior to the event which nearly saw it postponed. However, after hearing Mary's final wish that the coronation should not be moved, plans continued.

As the Queen and Prince Philip acknowledged the thousands of wellwishers, one of the Queen’s maids of honour, Anne Cook, took in the scene, later describing “seeing vast crowds, you couldn’t put a pin between them, and all shouting with love and excitement and admiration”.
As the Queen and Prince Philip acknowledged the thousands of wellwishers, one of the Queen’s maids of honour, Anne Cook, took in the scene, later describing “seeing vast crowds, you couldn’t put a pin between them, and all shouting with love and excitement and admiration”.

The Queen's Coronation on the 2nd June 1953 was nothing short of spectacular. Being televised for the first time in history saw people from across the world marvel at the solemn event through their television screens. The Queen's white satin coronation dress was embroidered with gold and silver thread which included floral emblem details from each of the countries in the Commonwealth.  As the Queen walked through Westminster Abbey, the Imperial State Crown resting upon her head, was said to be the moment the Commonwealth and the world came together.

The Royal Tour

Following the Coronation, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh set off for their first and longest ever Commonwealth tour which saw them visit 13 countries covering an impressive 71,000kms. Their visit to Australia and New Zealand was the first time a British monarch had ever visited and the excitement  was so enormous that almost one third of all Australians went to greet her.

In 1961, The Queen travelled to India, Pakistan and Nepal, and later in the year,  Gambia, Sierra Leone and even troubled Ghana, despite concerns for her safety, including from the President. The Queen, however, dismissed the fears and went forth anyway, proving just how devoted and committed she was to her duty.  Former UK Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan said of this:

"The Queen has been absolutely determined all through ... She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her as ... a film star ... She has indeed 'the heart and stomach of a man."

Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip waves to crowds in Hobart during their Australian tour in 1954.
Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip waves to crowds in Hobart during their Australian tour in 1954.

Modernising the Monarchy  

The Queen understood early on that the monarch needed to evolve with the times, and so royal practices started to take a shift. In 1969 she appeared in a documentary The Royal Family and saw her sister Margaret divorce in 1978.  

In 1981 there were two assassination attempts on her life which would unnerve anyone, but not the stoic Queen. Many praised her for her calmness and courage when she was shot at close range in front of thousands of people while riding her horse, Burmese in The Trooping of the Colour. Later that year she was also shot at whilst on tour in New Zealand.

The Royal Family's fortunes took a turbulous turn during the 1990s. In 1992, which the Queen refers to as her 'annus horribilis', the marriages of Princess Anne, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew all broke down.  It was also the year a fire swept through Windsor Castle destroying over 100 rooms. To make matters worse, Britain, struggling with recession at the time, started to show signs of resentment towards the royals over what seemed to be a far too grandiose lifestyle for the times.

Diana, Princess of Wales' tragic death in 1997 was a turning point for the Queen as the grief of Diana's passing was felt intensely by the British people and across the world.

However, by the 2000s, the Royal Family's fortunes picked up. What was thought to be a controversial marriage between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005 turned out to be a joyful celebration.

The royal family watches a flyover from the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s birthday parade.
The royal family watches a flyover from the balcony of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s birthday parade.

The royals' popularity grew to even greater heights the day Prince William married his college sweetheart, Catherine (Kate) Middleton on 29 April 2011. The world seemed to almost stop when Kate stepped out of the black Rolls-Royce, everyone waiting with bated breath to see her wedding dress. And let us not forget the cheering sound of the crowd when the pair shared a kiss on the famous Buckingham Palace balcony, the same fairytale balcony that Elizabeth and Philip stood on in 1947.

Two billion people around the world watched Prince William and Kate Middleton get married in 2011. Picture: AP Photo/Tom Hevezi
Two billion people around the world watched Prince William and Kate Middleton get married in 2011. Picture: AP Photo/Tom Hevezi

Longest-reigning British Monarch

A woman who could always draw a crowd, The Queen celebrated 60 years on the throne with her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and in 2015 surpassed Queen Victoria's record reign of 63 years and seven months and became Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

2017 marked 65 years since the Queen acceded, although it was only celebrated privately. Prince Philip officially retired from royal duties that year and Elizabeth began to share more with Prince Charles and Prince William. Prince Harry's wedding in 2018 brought more joy, although it was short-lived, as he departed the Royal Family two years later.

Prince Harry said his grandfather was “cheeky right ‘til the end”.
Prince Harry said his grandfather was “cheeky right ‘til the end”.

Then, on 9 April 2021, the Queen faced her saddest day, when her "strength and stay" of 73 years, Prince Philip, passed away. In the wake of his death many wondered if the Queen would step back from her remaining duties, she however stood devoted as ever to her role, keeping her promise to always put the people of the Commonwealth first above her own.

Her duties did sadly come to an abrupt halt in 2021 after she spent a night in hospital. Coupled with the spread of Covid amping up, it was on best advice that she take a break from public engagements. This of course would have pained her, for she wanted always to honour her vows until the very end.

The Queen sits alone, separated from her family for the funeral of her beloved husband.
The Queen sits alone, separated from her family for the funeral of her beloved husband.

On the 6th February 2022, The Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee in which she took the opportunity to thank the public with a written message saying that it gave her great pleasure to renew the pledge she gave in 1947, "...that my life will always be devoted to your service."

In the UK, there was a four-day Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II accession in 1952. The extravaganza from 2-4 June 2022 had Trooping the Colour, Royal Air Force flypast, drone displays, a star studded rock concert outside Buckingham Palace as well as the monarch enjoying tea with Paddington Bear. The event which was nothing short of spectacular widely emphasised how many people loved and cared for Elizabeth across the world.  

The Queen has seen it all, and has seen it go.  Admired for her consistency, she was always there for her people. She had a modesty that many respected and a devotion to duty unrivalled in royal history.

The most elusive figure of our time, her duty always came before private matters.  At her coronation 70 years ago, she made a promise to be devoted to our service and that Elizabeth, you most certainly did.

Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images

May you rest in peace Your Majesty, your strength and warmth will forever remain in our hearts.

"If we all go forward together with an unwavering faith, a high courage, and a quiet heart, we shall be able to make of this ancient commonwealth, which we all love so dearly, an even grander thing - more free, more prosperous, more happy and a more powerful influence for good in the world - than it has been in the greatest days of our forefathers." - The Queen's 21st Birthday speech, 1947.

By Kirsten Jakubenko  

Sources: 

  • https://www.britannica.com/biography/Elizabeth-II 
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_II 
  • https://www.royal.uk/her-majesty-the-queen 
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyukAXKsHtg 
  • https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/a26111579/queen-elizabeth-ii-father-king-george-vi-death/ 
  • https://twitter.com/RoyalFamily 

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