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An Icon for the Ages
Exploring and celebrating the symbolism we attached to Queen Elizabeth II, not just in life, but in the legacy that the Royal Family will take forward in future.
To appreciate Queen Elizabeth II was to view her not just as a person, but as a purposeful and powerful force who influenced and touched lives. Despite evolving from a young woman to an aged lady, the symbolism of her, as Queen of the United Kingdom and various other Commonwealth realms, has been perpetual and unique – someone able to touch so many lives over so many decades.
For now, that chapter, where we default to our admiration and love for the entity that is the Queen, closes. It seems unlikely that in any of our lifetimes we will again identify a Queen again as Head of State. Conceivably, this will next happen should Prince George of Wales – currently aged nine – passes on the throne, and supposes his eldest child is a daughter.
Of course, the Queen is celebrated much more than just a name. In the immediate aftermath of Elizabeth’s death, many noted the literate strength in terming a King as our monarch; yet Charles will surely never better his mother for solidity and toughness. The former Prince will struggle to match Elizabeth’s poise and precision; and obviously, as far as longevity as Head of State goes, he will fall some way short, even though he will look forward to a period on the throne that is full and worthwhile.
What Queen Elizabeth II has given to the UK, and the world, is almost a reinterpretation of womanly power. When she climbed onto the throne in 1952, aged just 25, she knew there would never be a King to sit alongside her; and in Prince Philip we had a partner who relished the duty of standing behind and in the shadows of his wife, never once looking to steal her thunder.
While Elizabeth was always surrounded by a bountiful, adoring family, and an admiring nation, there was often a nagging feeling that she was alone in her existence. Yet the aching, almost endless corridors of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral surely only ever heightened a sense of fortitude in her duties, and that is why we treasured her. The most isolated of exposed lives, and in so many ways an existence that was abnormal, yet conducted with grace, calm and unrelenting commitment. This all adds to our perception of what a modern-day Queen is.
If you delve into the duties of a monarch, what comes back is quite a passive, over-arching and limited influence of affairs, with the appointing of a Prime Minister and the bestowing of honours probably the two most notable tasks. Yet Queen Elizabeth carried with her importance so far beyond that.
Consider the rise in feminism, for instance; of equality between the sexes, or female empowerment. It can be no coincidence that all these have all come under her watch.
Across 70 years on the throne, so many have noted the huge societal shift in the way we live and significant changes our country has enjoyed experienced, and rightly so. And sure, the Queen won’t lay any claim to the progression of industry, interconnectivity and technology; yet she may justifiably take credit as the fulcrum and the foundations on which so many female movements have been built. After all, how can there be any greater proof than in herself?
In centuries past, the notion of royalty has always been decorated in hierarchy and patriarchy, yet through Elizabeth, and her great-great-grandmother, Victoria, we have reshaped and readjusted our perception of what it is to be reigned by a Queen.
Thank you, Your Majesty.