It is hard for me to properly put my feelings about HM Queen Elizabeth II into words. As many have already said, there are personal and historical reasons to treat this time with solemnity and sadness. Her role as Head of State here in Canada, as the leader of the Commonwealth, and as the longest-ever reigning monarch in British history leaves us with a legacy beyond compare.
Elizabeth has been a steady element in my life and no doubt in yours – whatever your thoughts on the role of the crown in today’s crazy world – full of blog posts, Twitter feeds, and Facebook updates. And now these new social media elements have been there to give tribute to this amazing world leader.
She Served Us All
Our Queen was always there – to offer a rock-solid steadiness in an otherwise crazy world. The British crown is as secure as it is because she gave the role the gravitas it so richly deserved.
She was the most travelled British Monarch in history, visiting Canada something like twenty-two times (please forgive me if I’m off by one or two). Maybe, like me, you will remember the episode of The Crown when she and Philip, on a safari in Africa, are informed of her father’s death and must rush home to step into a role she was not expected to fill when she was born. Let’s remember that at the time of her birth, Elizabeth was the first child of the King’s brother, not the King. Once her uncle abdicated, she became the direct heir to the throne.
Looking back at her relationship with her uncle – and he with the monarchy – I can appreciate the steadiness of nerves and commitment to tradition and to the British people that she displayed.
It’s Personal - Thank You Very Much
Like all of you (well, almost all of you), I knew of no one else as our Monarch, our Queen. And in my youth (my exact age is not important), I joined the Military Reserves as a member of the Royal Highland Fusilier of Canada. And on November 12, 1994, I took the Canadian Forces Solemn Affirmation to the Queen. An affirmation I hold dear to this day.
I, Brian Joseph Kettles, do solemnly affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, the Second Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors according to law.
It was one of the proudest moments of my life. And will remain a cherished memory throughout the years to come. Her ties, and those of the entire Royal family, to the military both in Britain and abroad gave me strength and solace.
And Now We Must Say Goodbye.
As the events of the last month or so have unfolded, we have had the opportunity to reflect upon and pay tribute to a life well lived, in service to the British people, to the entire Commonwealth, and to the world as a whole. As much as we knew that this day had to come, its arrival was still shocking and disheartening.
And then last week, as the procession travelled from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Gate, I was overwhelmed with pride as I watched members of the RCMP – the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – lead the way.
As Canadians, We Can be Particularly Proud
One of the things that many Canadians have proudly commented about was the role those Mounties played. And it was not just the riders that many of us were so proud of. It was also the horses they were riding. Even Horse Canada wrote about it. (https://horse-canada.com/horse-news/horses-queens-funeral/)
All of these horses were gifts over the years from Canada to Her Majesty and three of the four had even been ridden by other members of the royal family at the Queen’s 96th birthday parade just a few short months ago. Thank you, Darby, George, Sir John and Elizabeth. A fine equine quartet to be sure.
Your service spoke well to both yourselves and your homeland.
However Personal, It Is Also Historical
I marvel at the mesh of history we have witnessed over these last few weeks. Grief was shown over social media, in a context no one could have imagined, when HM Queen Elizabeth received her coronation on June 3, 1953. That event at Westminster Abbey, where every British Monarch since 1066 has been crowned, adds an element I can barely comprehend. It adds gravity and consequence to the events – in both their current and historical context. That is a level of stability we should truly appreciate in the topsy-turvy world we are witnessing right now.
And now let us reflect and remember - the Queen has died! Long live the King!
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