The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, saw an outpouring of respect and affection. The Second Elizabethan Age spanned seven decades, but the life of service stretches back even further to the mid 1930s, when the teenage Princess Elizabeth became Heir Apparent to her father, King George VI. The Queen’s passing was a moment to recall a life lived at the centre of history, the story of a young girl who, in the words of the poet laureate Simon Armitage, gave “a promise made and kept for life . . . the country loaded its whole self into your slender hands . . .”
That life was remembered across the UK, The Commonwealth and around the world. Her Majesty had been a constant presence across the decades and, we can note as solace, her dedication to duty and her vivacity were in evidence until her last hours. The poet laureate’s words were beautifully apt: “Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon.”
The story of Queen Elizabeth II began at 2.40 am on April 21, 1926, at 17 Bruton Street in London’s swanky Mayfair district. The newborn was a significant royal arrival being the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York and, therefore, third in line to the throne. Her birth was attended by four physicians of the highest repute and a modest group of well-wishers gathered outside the family residence. The days of mass media hysteria and “celebrity culture” were still a few decades away. It was something quite simple, but the happy formative years Princess Elizabeth enjoyed undoubtedly account for her calm and steady character. The Yorks gave their daughters, Elizabeth and her sister Margaret (born in August 1930), childhoods of security filled with love.
The final journey in the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II took the monarch back to her beloved home, Windsor Castle. The Service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor, with prayers said by the Rector of Sandringham, the Minister of Crathie Kirk and the Chaplain of Windsor Great Park. The hymns were sung by the Choir of St George’s Chapel. The culmination of the Service will be long remembered as one of the most touching and powerful moments in royal history. Prior to the final Hymn, the Imperial State Crown, the Orb and the Sceptre were removed from Her Majesty the Queen’s Coffin, and placed on the Altar.