Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
6 minutes read
‘Your Majesty’ to the people of Great Britain, but Lilibet, Cabbage and Gan-Gan to her loving family, Queen Elizabeth II has sadly passed away, at her beloved Balmoral, 8 September 2022.
Born in 1926 and reigning strong for seven decades, in 2015, she became the longest reigning monarch in British history. She travelled further than her predecessors and became renowned, loved, and respected for her devotion to the crown and country during her time on the throne. The world has changed immeasurably since she became Queen in 1953, but her commitment to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth has always endured.
Acts of kindness
Born in Mayfair, she was named after her mother, and her middle names (Alexandra and Mary) were those of her grandmother and great-grandmother. Though it is hard to imagine the last century without Queen Elizabeth II at the head of the Royal helm, when she was a child, it was deeply unexpected that she would ever don the crown. That all changed when her uncle, King Edward VIII, famously abdicated in 1936, and her father became King.
Throughout her life, The Queen viewed public and voluntary service as a vital part of her role, serving as Royal Patron or President to over 600 charities ranging from the British Red Cross and Cancer Research UK to newer, smaller institutions like the Reedham Children’s Trust. In doing so, she thrust these wonderful causes into the spotlight, drumming up an incredible amount of publicity. In fact, in one year, she alone was said to have helped raise an astonishing $2 billion for good causes.
Kind and compassionate, she encouraged us to think of those around us and promoted an unselfish way of living. “Our modern world places such heavy demands on our time and attention that the need to remember our responsibilities to others is greater than ever,” she announced on the 2002 Christmas broadcast.
Born into one of the most famous families in the world, The Queen was very close to her parents, and the Queen Mother was a beloved public figure who sadly died in 2002. The Queen had four children, eight grandchildren and an impressive twelve great-grandchildren who have taken over the spotlight recently. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, revealed that the Queen would leave little treats in the bedrooms of her littlest visitors whenever they would stay with her.
The family spent Christmas together whenever possible in Sandringham, Norfolk, attending church on Christmas Day and exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve. Acknowledging that they didn’t need lavish presents, the Royals opted for joke gifts to make each other laugh, with her grandson Harry said to be responsible for making the cheekiest purchases.
One of history’s most enduring love stories, The Queen was married to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for 73 years. He was, in her words, her ‘strength and stay‘ and supported her in her busy public life. The couple first met at the wedding of Prince Philip’s cousin in 1934. An engagement followed in 1947, and they married later that same year. Getting married so soon after World War II meant the celebrations were a restrained affair, with Princess Elizabeth collecting clothing coupons for her dress and the couple choosing to honeymoon at Broadlands, Hampshire.
Her Father, King George VI, penned his daughter a note following the nuptials, in which he wrote: “I have watched you grow up all these years with pride under the skilful direction of Mummy, who, as you know, is the most marvellous person in the world in my eyes, and I can, I know, always count on you, and now Philip to help us in our work.”
A true testament to a warm and loving family life.
Queen of style
It’s impossible to think of the Queen without summoning to mind her iconic and instantly recognisable sense of style. She had a penchant for brightly coloured dresses and matching coats, said to be preferred as it allows revellers to easily spot her in a crowd (it’s handy for photographers too.) Favoured designers included Norman Hartnell and Angela Kelly.
She was partial to a sequin or a bow, often seen sporting a hat and clutching a handbag by Launer, with their rigid top handle and timeless sharp shape that’s more often on the catwalk than off. She was rumoured to own an impressive 200 of them. The contents of said bag? According to Royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith: a mirror, lipstick, mints and reading glasses.
She opted for a simple beauty routine consistent throughout her life. Very natural on the eyes, a swipe of pink lipstick and a fresh set of curls. Astonishingly, she was said to only hire a makeup artist once a year to record her Christmas message when Marilyn Widdess was employed to prepare The Queen for the millions of people who tune in every year. So for the other 364 days, Her Royal Highness picked up the brushes and got to work.
A passionate and vibrant woman, Queen Elizabeth II was a trailblazer with a stoic work ethic to match. While she never directly discussed feminism during her life, her position of power was undoubtedly a source of inspiration for many. Olivia Colman, who played The Queen in two series of the TV show The Crown, told Radio Times in 2019, “[She is] the ultimate feminist. She’s the breadwinner. She’s the one on our coins and banknotes.” She was also the first female member of the Royal Family to take on an active duty role in the Armed Forces, and in 2011 she oversaw changes to succession law that meant both sons and daughters would have equal rights to the throne. Speaking at the 100th meeting of the Women’s Institute in 2015, she said, “In the modern world, the opportunities for women to give something of value to society are greater than ever because, through their efforts, they now play a much greater part in all areas of public life.”
She also had many hobbies, most famously her love of dogs and horses and spending time in the countryside. She was given a Corgi called Susan for her 18th birthday, and it’s hard to think of a breed of dog that’s as closely associated with a person in the public eye. She also enjoyed Scottish country dancing and, when staying at Balmoral Castle, would host Gillies’ Balls for the local community and estate staff. She will doubtlessly be remembered by many as a warm and kind woman who oversaw a significant change in the world.
She will be greatly missed, not only here, but across the world.