Long Lived the Queen
Due to no effort on my part, I was in the right place at the right time many years ago to watch Queen Elizabeth II opened a new session of Parliament. We were visiting London and noticed large crowds gathering in front of the hotel where we stayed. A police officer was kind enough to tell us we were at the right time and place to see the pomp and circumstance that goes with opening a new Parliament session; he led us to a spot where we would have a perfect view of the ceremony parade from Buckingham Palace to Parliament.
It was thrilling. The guards stood at attention, statue still, the distance between them measured with what looked like an enormous compass. The band played as riders and horses passed by. The horses were either all black or all white. One coach carried the queen’s crown, placed high on a pillow so we could easily see it. Another carried her scepter, also raised up for us to see. When not in use, this is kept in a museum where the public can view it. It has been in continuous use for official affairs since 1661. Finally, we got a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth, waving to the crowds pressed together on either side of the road. I have never witnessed anything like it before or since.
Paying Respects Down Under
The combination of having had a pen pal from Australia in my youth and the photos my parents brought home from their trip to Australia made me eager to eventually visit Australia for myself. I had a chance to do that several years ago. The Sydney Opera House is an architectural wonder. The tour I was with was seated many balconies above the main floor. And though our tour guide was speaking in a soft voice, she was paged to ask her to quit talking because the school children on the first floor could hear her talking.
Australia is still part of the British Empire, and thus her image was shown on one of the shells of the building so that all who approached were invited to pay tribute to her.
End of an Era?
As history has proven through the ages, empires come, and empires go. Once upon a time, it was true that the sun never set on the British Empire. The British empire was the largest, richest, and most powerful empire the world had seen. It began in the 16th century with the exploration and colonization of territories in North America. Some would say with the exploitation of people both on this continent and others. During the 20th century, it dissolved from an empire into the Commonwealth, as countries colonized by Britain won sovereignty over their own affairs, but retained ties to the United Kingdom.
With the death of long-reigning Queen Elizabeth II I am already hearing and reading speculation that this may bring an end to the British monarchy. Charles will undoubtedly be crowned King Charles III. But I can’t help but wonder if he shall be the last monarch to be crowned.
Pomp and New Circumstances
Ready or not, like it or not, the world keeps evolving and changing. As much as I admire and enjoy all the British ceremonies and public displays of national traditions, perhaps this is not the best use of the funds it takes to sustain such traditions. That will be for others to decide, of course. It will be interesting to see how things go under the reign of King Charles, who has literally been waiting his entire adult life into his 70s for his first actual job. I hope it goes well for him. Though I am sure he wears much larger size shoes than his mother, he still has huge shoes to fill.
Speaking of wardrobe, it turns out that the purse she is famous for always having with her was actually a communication tool. Forget pagers and text messages. Her Highness used the location of her purse to signal to the attendants what she wanted them to do.
Words to Consider
Like all of us, she had no control over the world into which she was born, nor the family in which she was raised. Nonetheless, she reigned with a steady hand, managing the challenges in her personal and family life, and the lives of her people, with dignity and grace. Was she flawless? No, of course not. I’ve never met anyone who was. Is the concept of a monarch past its usefulness? Perhaps. But for seven long decades, she presided over the one in England as well as anyone could have. I shall always respect her and find encouragement in some of her philosophies expressed in these quotes:
At the time of her coronation:
- “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”And these insights for living an effective life:
- “Each day is a new beginning; I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God. I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad.”
- “Over the years, I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm, and their inspiration, to work together.”
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts about the British monarchy. It will be interesting to see what happens next to England, and Canada as one of the few remaining members of the British Commonwealth. If you found this interesting, consider sharing it with a friend. Sign up for a free subscription at HowWiseThen.
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