Published September 8, 2022
By Lib Campbell
The news crawl across the bottom of the television gave us the news. Queen Elizabeth died the afternoon of September 8, 2022. At 96, her death could not be described as sudden or unexpected. We have all watched frailty and heartbreak creep up on her. Even her resolve could not hold her. Still, we saw her strength in blessing one last Prime Minister. What a pure gift.
I was 8 years old when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. I watched the coronation on a black and white TV and remember wondering how she could hold her head up with so heavy a crown on her head. Mother bought me a Queen Elizabeth coloring book that I kept for years. I may have liked her from the beginning because my name is also Elizabeth. And who doesn’t want to be a princess?
A seventy-year reign is most impressive. Even though the Monarchy has been criticized and, in some voices reviled, the pomp, majesty, dignity and pageantry surrounding the Royals has been and still is mesmerizing to a lot of us. The Queen has reminded us of manners, civility, duty, service and steadfastness even as the world has grown more boisterous, crude, and unkind.
The news reports go on and on about how she visited countries and met with world leaders. I wonder what was said behind closed doors when American Presidents could hardly hold a candle to the protocol and tradition of royalty. We, none of us, are kings and queens, even though we may have healthy enough egos to claim such and gild our homes with gold.
We watched a few seasons of The Crown on the telly. If any of it is based on truth, Prince Philip was not exactly who I thought he was. But we saw a Queen so committed to her country and her job, she likely put up with a lot, like a trial under fire. We watched her be a mother to four children. Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward. Their lives do not read like fairy tales. Wonder how many sleepless nights she had worrying about them and the headlines they made?
I think William and Harry were her crown jewels. I think she likely died hoping for reconciliation and forgiveness in her family. Maybe her death will precipitate a little of that. Death is always a very real reminder that none of us live forever and that time is short when healing work needs to be done.
It will be hard to recognize a King after so many years of the Queen. She will be a hard act to follow. Charles has been in the wings a long time. Hopefully he will find ways to offer himself to the U.K. and the world with some of the humor, compassion, and smarts his mother had. England is not exempt from some of today’s world problems. Economic struggles, residual pandemic woes, climate issues, and the increasing threat of violence from forces inside and outside the country are real. And though the Monarchy has little real power, the call for strong leadership on the world stage maybe greater now as leadership passes to a new generation.
Times change. Leaders change. Traditions may come and go, but the outpouring of kind words and remembrances of a grateful nation for a beloved Queen are just beginning to come in. There will be much pomp and pageantry as services are planned for a funeral. Queen Elizabeth II will be royally celebrated, as she should be. You, dear QE2, in your own personhood raised all of us up, and we thank you.
She lived nearly a century. A century of expansion of knowledge and technology. A century of war and peace, and more war now on the continent. She rose every day, put her big girl pants on, and addressed the world with wisdom and grace. Her like will not pass this way again. That is what makes this a sad day. When we lose those who fill the world with dignity, purpose and strength to do what may be hard but is always right it’s a sad day. Rest in peace, dear Queen. You may have belonged to England, but a lot of us loved you too.
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, columnist, retreat leader and hosts the blogsite www.avirtualchurch.com. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org