Vale, Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, has died.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, seemed to define and typify an age so completely, that, despite her age and the length of her reign, her death has still come as something of a shock.

A war-time Princess who stayed at her father's side, a Queen whose first British Prime Minister – the first of fifteen – was Winston Churchill, and the face and name of the Commonwealth for my entire lifetime and all but a few years of my parents' lifetimes, too.

She was a calm, gracious, constant and steadying force. 

The Monarchy is, of course, an institution, rather than a person, yet Queen Elizabeth's time on the throne was so long, and during such momentous societal change, that it's truly hard to separate one from the other.

And she was universally loved and respected – by Britons, Australians and even by those outside the British Commonwealth. She was, at once, a wise and thoughtful stateswoman and yet we felt a personal connection of sorts; at least as much as is possible with someone you don't know, and whose life and ours is about as different as can be imagined.

Which, perhaps, was her secret – she was able to personify charm and warmth, even while being distant and apart.

Mostly, she will be remembered for a life of service. 

It may, perhaps, be best summarised in this line from Her Majesty's first televised address, on 1957:

"I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice. But I can do something else. I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations."

And she did.

It was a die cast in 1947, in a famous radio speech:

"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

And it was.

Queen Elizabeth's passing is remarkable, for many reasons. For the closeness many felt to her. For her reign's – and her life's – longevity. For the constancy her presence afforded to our lives, and to our public institutions.

It is a loss that will be felt, deeply, in many different ways, today and in the weeks and months ahead.

The little girl born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor couldn't have known the course her life would take,

But it was a life well lived.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Vale, Queen Elizabeth II.

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