September 19, 2022
As these words take shape the field of flowers planted in the moat of the Tower of London are coming to the end of their season. They were planted in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne, and it is poignant that Her Majesty’s reign should come to a close at such a time, on the 8th September, 2022, as the year turns towards its Fall.
Outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle flowers are being left in the late monarch’s memory. Flowers are how we celebrate, and how we mourn.
It says a great deal about our Queen that one of the legacies she leaves behind is a vast, self–renewing wildflower meadow that reminds every visitor of the importance of the natural world, and that if we make space for it, it thrives alongside our built environment.
What follows the death of a monarch is a well rehearsed series of protocols that most British nationals have never seen in their lifetimes. For most of us, we have only ever known a Queen as our head of state, an Elizabethan age.
In the BBC film “The Unseen Queen” a sequence of royal home movies is edited together and voiced–over by Her Majesty. Inevitably, it covers many decades, and many people who died before her. She speaks with great clarity about life and death:
“We are all visitors to this time, this place” she says. “We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love. And then we return home.”
The Queen was photographed and looked at all her life, starting with her accession to the throne at the age of only 25, a glamorous young woman with a delightful smile. That people should now say that “she never changed” – after 70 years on the throne – is a testament to something in her character and her way of carrying out her duties with dignity, discretion and kindness. She knew what her job was and that was enough for her. She knew what to impart to us, her family and international nation states for 70 years.
Never failing to smile, give welcome or allow citizens to feel they knew her better, through her repeated gestures of humility. She travelled without protest to the corners of the developing world with enthusiasm; overcoming the real prejudice of her times. Elizabeth was not a symbol of colonial division, she was a perfect symbol of unity.
“We share the same world, but we do not share the same opportunities. A tolerant society actively develops the people who belong to it and enriches their lives because it values their diversity.”
She was world famous, she was private, she was steadfast, she was dedicated. She was also incredibly well informed about world events. And by all accounts she had a great sense of humour. Anyone who saw her “Paddington Bear” Christmas film last year would attest to that. Not to mention her very important cameo alongside Daniel Craig/James Bond back in 2012 for the Olympics. She was extraordinary.
The years that followed Elizabeth I’s reign were tumultuous because the succession was open to doubt.
Queen Elizabeth II has achieved what the first Elizabeth was not allowed to do, given the status of women in her time. She has been both a mother and a Queen, and the crown now passes to King Charles III as we enter the Carolean age. Long live the King.
“I had the honour of meeting Her Majesty and was reminded of this yesterday when a former employee reflected on that meeting in the 1980’s. More recently I met Her Majesty and her husband, Prince Phillip The Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace when we discussed the hospitality sector and London’s business – a meeting which I recall with fondness and pride as we continue to develop our hospitality interests in London.”
(Tony Matharu, Chairman of Blue Orchid Hotels)