Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, a wife, a mother, an animal lover, a mechanic, a war veteran, a head of many states and our dutiful Queen.
Her majesty has so sadly departed on her journey from this life to the next. As I write these words I, like a great majority of the English people, now live with a King sat upon the throne of England leading our kingdom and people forward for the first time in my life. I am but 25 years of age, yet I am in the same state of emotion as my 65 year old Sensei, who also has never know an England without a Queen. It is a silent and indescribable national grief we all share. Be under no illusion, the events of these days will be marked and remembered for millennia. The passing of England’s longest reigning monarch is a time of great sadness now, but these days will soon become days of profound intrigue and investigation to historians for decades, centuries and millennia to come. How blessed we were to have lived in the reign of such a universally beloved, gracious and magnanimous leader such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The role of a historian in the modern world is interesting to say the least. Historians today are a different breed to the library bound historians documenting the events of the world when the late Queen ascended to the throne 70 years ago. Historians who themselves were incomparable to the history documenting monks of the dark ages. Just as historians of today will seem archaic and primitive to the historians not yet born. While I may make my living working in construction, I was educated as a historian, in my mind and in my soul that is what I am. A student of the great annals of English history and a documenter of modern events. As tumultuous and eventful as the years in my short life have been, no time, no period, no days have been as significant and impactful on the course of human history, as these days we live now. In so many ways we are all historians in our own capacity. Photographing the world around us, documenting the failures of councils in endless emails about pot-holes and missed bin collections. Leaving our traces on the landscapes of world and documenting our thoughts and emotions on the ever expanding realm of the internet. Traces of humanity, evidence of life and civilisation, that will offer a window into the lives of people living today, to the historians of tomorrow. We all leave our mark on history and we all hold our place in the history of human civilisation.
Unlike a great many details of pageantry and ceremonies associated with our near 1200 year old monarchy, there is no council, no committee, no group of boffins and constitutional experts who convene to decide the title of a deceased monarch. These monikers are granted organically and over time, the names that stick are the names that are spoken by people and written down by historians who survive such leaders. Subjects of monarchs have the greatest impact upon how such rulers are remembered. Ivan the Terrible, Charles the Bald and Æthelred the Unready come to mind. The populous of a country dictate amongst themselves how leaders are remembered. People speak these names, lovingly or deridingly, and historians document the feeling of a populous toward such leaders and future historians use these titles in their own work. And thus monikers are made.
The future is uncertain, but what is for sure is that I, a humble and proud English man will forever remember my first Queen as Elizabeth the Great. Throughout the great tales of human history there are few individuals who float atop the rapidus pool of relevancy. These individuals have their moments, make their coin and are either swallowed back up by the rapids and cast back to the level of we lowly plebs, or tread water and cling to their new found positions. But few rise to the top, fight the rapids, quell the storm and cement their places in history, be under no illusion, Julius Cesar, Alexander the Great, Richard the Lionheart, Henry VIII, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill. These are the individuals our Queen will be remembered alongside, the greatest leaders and characters of history.
So much will change, but so much more shall remain the same. For the first time in so many English lives the national anthem and poem has changed. The anthem we shall sing, with heart and voice, henceforth will be ‘God Save the King’. We children of the Elizabethan age will now go forward without the support of our kingdoms greatest monarch. It is for us now to carry the torch, wave the flag and extol the ancient virtues of England. For all the ills of our day, we should not be bitter to the state of global and domestic affairs. Let’s not be sad that the reign of Elizabeth the Great has ended, but glad that it happened and that we were bestowed the honour to having been apart of it. Be thankful and stride on with joy, that we were blessed so simply to have lived in the time we did. During the reign of such a glorious and gracious Queen.
The Queen is Dead, Long Live the King.
© Joshua Dalton 2022