I woke up this morning to a less kind, generous, humble, strong, elegant, loving, and compassionate world. A woman who I have known since I was born left my world in a sudden void of what I considered traditional no-nonsense values we so lack today. A woman so far removed from my personal life yet so entangled and part of it that I find myself very sorrowful and sad. It’s like a long friendship has suddenly been rudely severed. An unexplainable ache for the familiarity was taken away without a chance to get used to the void.
Last week I had a strange dream that left me very unsettled because I could not explain it. It was a comforting dream. I woke up in a warm state of mind but utterly confused. A week ago, I dreamt that I was at Buckingham Palace for tea. A concept as foreign to me as even thinking of being inside Buckingham Palace, period. But there I was on a huge soft sofa sipping tea from a delicate cup watching people without faces murmuring across the room. Someone sat beside me and to my astonishment it was Ma’am herself. In blue. We sat silently until she turned to me to remark that today’s generation are soft. I took the bait. “They have no grit” I replied. She softly took my arm and the next thing I knew we were walking through London waving at people. I woke up feeling as warm as the imaginary tea I drank in my dream. Last night, my dream friend passed and left the streets of London quiet with sorrow.
Elizabeth was crowned a year after I was born. One could say that I have known her all my life. I grew up a colonist in the smallest colony of the empire, but the one that Elizabeth and Philip chose to visit and bring their children to for rest and relaxation. In her lifetime, Elizabeth always spoke fondly of Malta. They were the happiest two years of the newlywed’s lives. A Navy wife who could roam around the island unhampered and without care. Malta and the Maltese carry warm memories of the Royal Family as they routinely passed through the island with love and joy.
What was special about this woman? Brought up by strong traditional parents, she was taught at an early age the importance of responsibility and service. Her father took on the kingship against his will but with stoic determination for the good of the country. In turn he taught his daughter that service outweighs personal desires and choices. When Elizabeth took on the role of queen, her first broadcast was a promise to the nation that she would always be of service to the people she was chosen to take care of.
Elizabeth knew her role as a monarch to be without bias or political leanings. She lived through 15 prime ministers, some she liked, some she could do without. But she was the strength that often gave her prime ministers the counsel and advice that helped them lead through the eyes of a woman, mother, and queen. She never shirked from her family role of a mother. She ruled as a mother and later, grandmother. The various tragedies, scandals, challenges, and pain that hit her family did not change her approach to what is right and wrong. She rode the wave of popularity and unpopularity with calm and conviction. Two attributes so lacking in all of our leaders today.
As a woman, Elizabeth was a role model of strength and determination without apologies. She was the ultimate feminist when feminists were still a thing of the future. She was the glue that held a family together even when ready to split apart. She had the strength to reprimand, rebuke, and even “punish” family when needed. But at the end of it all, it was her love of God, country, and family that led her to continue to serve. And serve she did. From WWII as a mechanic to ruling for 70 years, Elizabeth served with honor, integrity, and most of all, love.
As Paddington put it so succinctly: thank you ma’am for everything.