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Tuesday September 27 2022

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – the Apotheosis of Glorious Englishness

16 September 2022 09:59 (UTC+04:00)
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – the Apotheosis of Glorious Englishness

By Orkhan Amashov

She was a constant presence in a changing world and the acme of supreme adaptability, allowing her to steer a course through turbulent times. In an epoch of emotional incontinence and instant gratification, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II stood stoically as a reminder of higher virtues, encapsulating a sense of duty, forbearance and self-sacrifice.

She was the embodiment of history incarnate and a powerful connection to yesteryear, remaining undiminished in an era of an anti-historical frenzy. The Queen was the solid epicentre of lucidity rising above controversy and a source of calm and continuity when most certainties seemed to be easily assaulted. For monarchists, she was the height of the tradition, for republicans, the sole undeniable justification for the preservation of this archaic, yet relevant and highly popular, institution.

As former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson poignantly remarked in his tribute, which was the oratorial pinnacle of all the speeches on the passing of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II “was the keystone in the vast arch of the British state”. She encapsulated a different, somewhat transcendental form of authority, radiating calmness and unperturbable confidence, constantly indicating that the wheels would be in endemic motion.

When each newly-elected, or newly-appointed Prime Minister, if to follow the convention strictly, appeared in front of the famous lacquered door of Number 10 Downing Street, grandiosely declaring that “Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a government and I have accepted”, those erudite words concealed the whole brilliance of British democracy, whereby the people’s will and the monarch’s prerogative constituted unshakable oneness. Queen Elizabeth II did her duty with unsurpassed dedication to ensure the firmness and acceptability of this lofty design.

In British politics, the Queen was supposed to have no opinion, a tendency that was strictly observed. This task may superficially seem easy, requiring merely the art of saying nothing political. Yet imagine for a moment that this gracious lady’s reign spanned 15 Prime Ministers, from Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill to Liz Truss and think of all the wealth of experience that she gained from dialogue with world leaders, and then reflect on her wisdom, discretion and delicacy in being a unifying force of the nation, remaining one stalwart reference point, not a substance-free, but an above-routine-substance anchor, which never failed to be beyond any meaningful reproach.

Her neutrality manifested itself most overwhelmingly during the Scottish referendum in 2014. One would have thought that the question on Scotland staying or leaving the United Kingdom was beyond daily politics, and due to its essential impact on the future of Britain, the Queen could have been forgiven the expression of some views. She did not. And when then-Prime Minister David Cameron injudiciously revealed Her Majesty's delight at the referendum verdict, the Palace was furious at his indiscretion. The monarchy’s influence must be subtle, vague and largely indefinable, yet potent in its ability to penetrate minds. A useful counterpoint was provided by her erstwhile consort Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, whose pithy comments were pointed and sometimes unerringly accurate.

So globally trusted and above international politics she was that even Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country is at its absolute lowest ebb with Britain, has also paid his tribute, calling her passing a ‘heavy irreparable loss’. A smart aleck in the habit of dismissing this language as hypocritical cant, or, at best, meaningless diplomatic nicety, may beg to differ. Yet, this brief interlude of respect is not utterly pointless, as it reminds us that beyond the moment of anger and bitterness, there is always a higher domain whereby courtesy and deference prevail over everything else.

The succession has seamlessly happened. The former Prince of Wales is now King Charles III. In line with the time-honoured tradition, the phrase “God Save the King” has resounded across the United Kingdom, as if “denying” Her Late Majesty her due period of mourning. Yet, as Bruce Anderson of the Spectator magazine reminded us recently, this is the gist of the continuity that lies at the heart of the monarchy. The idea of ‘secular immortality’ is fixedly clear, so it is paradoxically possible to swing in an instant from tears to cheering as, despite death, Britain also celebrates what is lasting and somewhat permanent.

Yet today, when Her Majesty lies in state in the Westminster Hall, reunited with her beloved Philip, it is the fact of the loss on which our minds are fixed. It behoves one to say here that, despite Britain no longer having an Empire ruling the waves, upon which the sun never sets, the Late Queen’s passing entails even a greater historical proportion than that of Queen Victoria. The Second Elizabethan age has come to an end.

People across the globe, not just in Britain, not just in Commonwealth realms, but far beyond, felt a deep sense of loss and grief when the news of the Queen’s passing was made public. And in the depths of our sorrow, we all felt how much that dignified woman encapsulating timelessness and unshakable continuity meant to all of us. Rest in peace, Your Majesty.

Requiescet in pace.

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