Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II turns a staggering 91 today and is more relevant and necessary than ever.
In our times where cult of personality runs so deep, she stands apart as a world leader and head of state who puts service and duty ahead of self-aggrandizement and brand awareness. She also serves as a shining example of diplomacy and how to navigate a complex world. Unsurprisingly, Britain’s longest-serving monarch is also one of its most-cherished, not only in the United Kingdom, or even the British Commonwealth, but in the world.
Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952, upon her father George VI’s untimely death from pulmonary disease. Her parents set a tone for leadership that clearly has influenced their daughter’s tenure. The Duke and Duchess of York became King George and Queen Elizabeth (her mother’s name as well) after George’s brother Edward VIII shirked his responsibilities to pursue a romantic path with American, Wallis Simpson.
Edward abdicated and George, supported greatly by the Queen Consort, rose to the occasion, restoring not only stability and affection for the Monarchy, but also great respect. They were very much wartime monarchs and their genuine concern for their people was visible day-in and day-out during the War as they visited bombed-out neighborhoods and refused to evacuate to safer remote locations. The King’s early death was a great blow to the nation and especially to his family.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 21, 2017
The contemporary teleseries, The Crown portrays for today’s audience just how challenging was the role and position of the new 21-year old queen. Not only had she just lost her beloved father and predecessor, but as an inexperienced young woman who found herself head of state of one of the most powerful nations, she was confronted with long-standing politicians, courtiers, and advisors (most of whom were men) all who had not only their own sense of how things must be done, but also their own personal agendas as well.
Happily for her nation and the world, Queen Elizabeth rose to the occasion magnificently. Endowed with her parents’ deep commitment to their people and strong sense of duty, Elizabeth II has been an unwavering source of pride and inspiration for the British people and the global community. From Churchill to Theresa May, the Queen has been an invaluable resource for a remarkable 13 prime ministers. She possesses knowledge that no computer, foreign office, or state department could ever process.
Her admiration in the U.S. is no less impressive. With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, the Queen has met with every president from Truman to Obama and has announced a state visit to the UK for President Trump in October.
For our part, presidents, first ladies, and the public thrill to welcome the Queen on official visits as they do no other dignitary. While we shed the monarchy and nobility when we gained independence, it does not seem to have dampened enthusiasm or interest in the Queen and her family. We are inspired to see her alongside our state heads at Normandy commemoration ceremonies, impressed by her own very visible support of the military, and comforted by her messages of support or condolence in times of grief.
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) April 21, 2017
A perfect example was her message to the American people after the 9/11 attacks when she expressed: “But nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’” A president or prime minister could have said the same words, but they have far deeper meaning from the lips of the Queen — a champion of Western Civilization, the Anglosphere, and a mother.
A great proponent of the Anglo-American relationship, Queen Elizabeth thrilled President and Mrs. Reagan at Windsor Castle during a State Visit in June of 1982 with the following superbly delivered remarks:
“We hope these will be enjoyable days for you in Britain, as enjoyable as our stays have always been in the United States. We shall never forget the warmth and hospitality of your people in 1976 as we walked through the crowds in Philadelphia, Washington, New York, and Boston to take part in the celebrations of the Bicentennial of American Independence.
“….Out of the War of Independence grew a great nation, the United States of America. And later there was forged a lasting friendship between the new nation and the country to whom she owed so much of her origins. But that friendship must never be taken for granted, and your visit gives me the opportunity to reaffirm and to restate it.”
On her 91st birthday, we thank God for the life and example of Queen Elizabeth II, and ask him to grant her many more years. No one will ever replace Queen Elizabeth, but let us pray that her descendants possess her commitment to service which has blessed her nation and the world.
Lee Cohen, New York Director of The Anglosphere Society, spent years advising the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Western European affairs, and was founding Executive Director of the House United Kingdom Caucus.
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