Farewell to our queen

Queen Elizabeth II, our sovereign monarch and head of state for 70 years died yesterday at 96 years old, leaving behind a royal legacy unmatched in the modern era.

She became a queen at a young age, never shirking the weight of the world she had thrust upon her.

And she faithfully did her duty longer than any other monarch in British history.

Elizabeth was a queen who never outwardly desired the role, but rose spectacularly to the occasion to define what it is that most of the world considers a queen to this day.

A towering figure of the 20th Century, the era of Elizabeth spanned eras in themselves that saw the world change radically.

The role of Britain in the modern world was shaken after being drained of resources from World War II.

Elizabeth ruled over the decline of the British Empire in the 1950s as the kingdom saw its influence around the globe wane.

The 1960s and 1970s saw a flood of countries achieve independence from Britain.

But it was arguably chiefly the fondness so many people of the world had for the queen that bound the Commonwealth of Nations.

Though her role was mainly ceremonial, much of the last 70 years of history can be tied to Elizabeth’s reign.

For Britain, she was held as a source of national pride and a beacon of freedom as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics held sway in much of the continent.

As the role of women in the world changed, Elizabeth reigned.

As the struggle of people of color to gain equality roiled nations, Elizabeth reigned.

When the Iron Curtain fell, signifying the death knell of communism in Europe, Elizabeth reigned.

As humanity itself evolved, progressed, travelled to the stars and further harnessed the power of the sun, Elizabeth reigned.

Through scandal, through tragedy, heartache and backlash from her own people, Elizabeth reigned.

She had the ability to unite people and though many countries were ravaged by colonialism, it was because she was so admired that so many in the Commonwealth kept their fealty to the Crown for so long.

She remained a constant in a global community that became more interconnected but more dissimilar with each passing generation.

Though many of our parents and grandparents grew up in a world that looked quite different, she was their queen as she was ours.

She was beloved in The Bahamas and she showed her appreciation and delight at her reception each of the five times she visited us.

Former prime ministers yesterday extolled her dignity, her grace and her affection for The Bahamas.

And here, as elsewhere, the lexicon of our lives is deeply tied to the queen.

It will feel foreign to the tongue for some time to say “King’s counsel”, among many other things.

To adjust to the fact we no longer have a queen at all will take time.

Many of our politicians can learn a lot from Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

For 70 years, she exemplified duty, service and constitutional adherence.

She did what was expected of her without complaint.

Her consistency and steadfastness will serve as an example that even monarchs born to privilege beyond imagining have a job to do.

We have wrestled for decades with the idea that it might be best for The Bahamas to forge its own path as a republic.

The complicated history of the House of Windsor has defined many previous such discussions.

With the death of the queen, those conversations will no doubt begin again.

It is a national discussion worth having 50 years after becoming independent.

For now, we will mourn our queen, whose shoes we doubt can ever be filled.

And we will hold out hope that our new king has learned well from her stellar example.

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