Normally when it comes to the US obsession with the UK Royal Family, my thoughts on the subject run something along the lines of “We fought two wars from 1775 to 1784 and 1812 to 1815 in part so that we wouldn’t have to worry about a royal family.” On the event of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, that’s not the case. I’m not so much interested in Queen Elizabeth as a monarch and the trappings of royalty, but from a historical perspective; she was Queen of the United Kingdom for 70 years – 70 years that saw a transformation of the British Empire and a transformation of the world. During her reign, the British Empire became the Commonwealth of Nations as British Colonies left the empire and became self-governing. Her reign saw the continuation of violence in Ireland and “The Troubles” of the late 60s to the late 90s, but it also saw the Good Friday Agreement which brought to an end much of the sectarian violence in Ireland. In her lifetime she saw a great war – World War II, smaller wars and rebellions in the UK’s former colonies, the Falklands War, and the great stand off of the Cold War – its beginnings and its (debatable) end. Her reign also saw cycles of economic gain and economic instability and huge societal changes both within the UK and worldwide. She may not have had the power of Queen Elizabeth I, but I think we’ll see some very interesting biographies of Queen Elizabeth II in the future.
I’ve read and watched a great deal about Queen Elizabeth II over the years and the word that stood out the most was service. She lived a life of service to the UK and to the Commonwealth. On a personal basis, I think her life was emblematic of the problems and struggles inherent in balancing service and family. No one is perfect and how she handled some things has been and will continue to be debated, but on the whole she seemed to me to be a fundamentally good and decent person and a good example to emulate, particularly when it came down to service to one’s country/community.
My condolences to my UK and Commonwealth friends and to all of those in the UK and the Commonwealth.