Queen Elizabeth II

A week ago today we learned of the unexpected passing of one of the longest serving monarchs in history. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was crowned as Queen of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth just over 70 years ago. I cannot imagine the changes she saw during her lifetime.

She was an extraordinary person, who lived an extraordinary life of service to both her subjects and to the Church. Her commitment to service meant that hers was a lifelong position. In 1947, before she ascended to the throne, she stated that “My whole life, whether it be long or short, will be devoted in service.” Toward the end of her time, it was clear that her health was not what it once was, but she insisted she continue to serve right up until the end.

As a woman in the role of head of state, she has worked largely in a man’s world. She was only 25 years old when she acceded to the throne in times very different to today. Despite this, she has coped with more than a lifetime of challenges, including natural disasters, wars and political upheavals. She has advised 15 prime ministers, with only three of these being women. By all accounts, she established productive working relationships with all of them, regardless of their background, political stance or disposition. And some of them were formidable, with Winston Churchill being the first Prime Minister to serve under the new Queen.

At CGGS we hold dear the values of Inclusion, Courage, and Integrity. Throughout her long life, I believe Queen Elizabeth II displayed each of these traits. From the outside, it appeared nothing and no one intimidated her. She became a strong and steady force in her own right and one which many have looked up to over the years. At times she has been forced to make difficult decisions, even relating to members of her own family. Again, she was able to put her personal feelings aside, and to make calls no one would enjoy making.

Over the next week and until after her funeral in London, flags across the nation (and across the Commonwealth) will fly at half-mast. A national day of mourning has been called for Thursday, 22 September in Australia, the first day of its type in most of our lives. The expressions of gratitude for her life’s work and sadness at her passing are being heard worldwide. Today I join those many voices in admiration for a woman who has led with dignity and strength, and one who will be missed and fondly remembered for many years to come.

Ms Joanna Leaman
Acting Deputy Principal (Head of Senior School)