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Muick, Sandy, and Emma were 'it' for me - final reflections on Queen Elizabeth

(Photos are from BBC, Reuters and PA media)

If you know me, you know that anything less than eight hours of sleep every night makes me even a worse version of myself. Lack of sleep is usually only reserved for an overnight flight looking forward to an exciting adventure in some foreign country. . . . .

And maybe for the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth. So, at 3:00 am, I was wide awake for live coverage of a day to remember. And I was wondering, “What is it about this royal show that got me up so early and kept me glued for five hours straight?” (It was long enough to make an entire batch of bread.)

Watching the endless royal processions, it came to me: dignified, stately, classy, pomp and circumstance, orderly, clean, calm, beautiful, emotional, inclusive, ‘normal’ . . . such a contrast to the bulk of the negative ‘news’ in the past half dozen years.

Setting aside the criticisms and discussion of the feasibility of monarchy, if there was ever any one event to prove the worth of this one person, Queen Elizabeth, it was the world-wide gathering on September 19, 2022. Queens and kings and leaders across the world convened in London to pay respects. Thinking of the logistics alone of traveling and security, this is proof of just how important and popular she was to the world.

There is no one person left in the world who would command such an eclectic audience. And make no mistake – they were not honouring the position of Queen, but the person herself. There will be future queens and kings, but there will be none who have had such an influence in so many lives for so many decades.

So what was it about Queen Elizabeth that had dignitaries flitting across the world, hundreds of thousands flocking to London, people queuing for 24 hours simply to view her casket, and millions watching on social media? (Social media estimates over 4 billion viewers, the largest viewership of any event, ever, in the world.) Watching the formal services, listening to public interviews, sharing her family’s emotions, and replaying key moments of her history, a clear picture of Queen Elizabeth emerges.

Firstly, she had a big job, and when she spoke, the entire world had no choice but to listen. She headed a Commonwealth that is unique in that it covers a large part of the world and consists of ‘member states’ with much diversity in customs and appearance but who share values of democracy and human rights ( Secondly, she ruled for a lifetime, our lifetime. We ‘boomers’ can chart our lives with Queen Elizabeth – our growing up years, her picture in our classrooms, our confusing adolescent years, families, careers, illnesses, deaths, family squabbles, break-ups, and all the world events (recessions, wars, pandemics, natural disasters, terrorism) that have occurred - we shared them all with Queen Elizabeth. So, in a way, she was our life, and her passing is a reminder to all of us that our time is passing, too.

One commentator stated that she was like a “granny” to the world. And she played that granny role well, despite how old we were. One clip that has been replayed is her soothing voice during COVID when she quoted Vera Lynn, stating, “we’ll meet again”. She was a constant – she was predictable in her behaviour and in her manners and even in her clothing. She believed in dressing impeccably in bright colours (we will all remember her yellow and orange and blue and green and violet suits and matching hats) because she knew that the people wanted to see her. She knew what devotion and service to country really meant. She was a role model. She showed us how to maintain grace under immense pressure – such as her blunt but also loving approach when her own adult children were ‘acting up’ the same year as her home (her castle) lit up in flames. She never stepped out of line, figuratively or literally. She knew how to put people in their place, subtly (think of a certain leader who thought he ruled the world). And maybe we are recognizing that with her passing and with all the recent tumultuous world events, our ideal of democracy and human rights is at stake?

But what shone through was that she was normal. We all know that when Prince William’s mom, Princess Diana, died when he was only a teenager, his “granny”, as he publicly and famously called her at the end, was there to comfort him. And watching the emotion on the faces of her children (Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward) and her many grandchildren as they endured hours and days of their own grief in the midst of public scrutiny in the past two weeks, you know that she was simply mother, ‘granny’, and great ‘granny’ with one huge role to play in a divisive world.

So as the procession made it’s slow way up to Windsor Castle, marching to that hypnotizing drum beat for the final resting, the pictures flashed to Muick and Sandy, her two beloved corgi dogs, and then to Emma, her equally-beloved pony of 26 years watching the procession wind by. And that was it for me, as they say. It was so emotional and so normal. That’s what any family would do.

Beyond the pomp and circumstance, there was her connection to us – she was a granny who role modelled love and safety for us all and who had three pets who shared her every minute.

So, the day went by. My eyes were bleary and my decisions questionable, but I have no regrets for that missed sleep.

Because there will never be another Queen Elizabeth.



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