Seventy years of historic and unprecedented reign came to a sad end on Thursday as the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the rest of the world bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II, born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.
On February 6 this year, the 96-year-old became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service. She reigned as Britain was governed by 15 different Prime Ministers – from Winston Churchill (1952) to Liz Truss (2022) and other memorable names in between, such as Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Edward Heath, John Mayor, and David Cameron.
Before her passing, the Queen had been unwell for several months. The monarch had been experiencing more severe mobility issues since she was affected by COVID-19 in February 2022, which left her “very tired and exhausted”. Before that diagnosis, she has been suffering from mobility issues since October 2021, reportedly getting about in a wheelchair due to stiffness that left her unable to move.
Her last official act and public appearance were on Tuesday when she met with Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Indeed, with the new PM and the late monarch’s eldest son Charles becoming King, the British people are entering a new dawn in politics and the monarchy.
The world has been divided over the monarchy. The Queen was loved and adored by many but they were others who did not feel the same. To paint a picture that only portrays love for the Queen the world over would be a falsity.
In some quarters of Britain itself, there have been calls for the dismantling of the royal structure which some see as archaic and divisive.
The family itself has been the subject of many controversies and, given its profile, has lent itself to public comment and scrutiny – from before Queen Elizabeth II’s reign when her uncle, Edward VIII denounced his royalty allowing her father to rule, to her son Andrew’s sex scandals, her son Charles and Princess Diana’s divorce, her daughter Princess Anne’s divorce, and her grandson Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle and subsequent exit from the royal family.
Through it all, the Queen continued to reign with grace.
In a statement released for the 70th Jubilee The Queen told Britain: “When it comes to how to mark 70 years as your Queen, there isn’t a guidebook to follow. It really is a first. But I have been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee. While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all. I have been inspired by your kindness, joy, and kinship that have been so evident in recent days, and I hope this renewed sense of togetherness will be felt for many years to come.”
In Barbados, the Queen reigned supreme up until midnight on November 29, 2021, when we ushered in our first President and became a Republic. For our 54 years of Independence, the Queen was still our ultimate head of state.
With institutions like the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Queen’s College bearing her name, along with roads in urban Barbados such as Buckingham Road, the ties between the country known as “Little England” and Britain will always be evident.
So much so, that on the night Barbados transitioned to Republican status Prince Charles was present and delivered remarks on behalf of his mother, the Queen.
The monarch herself would have visited Barbados six times during her reign, the most memorable years being 1966 (Barclays Park Opening), 1975 (Sir Gary’s Knighthood), 1977 (Silver Jubilee), and 1989 (Barbados’ Parliament 350th year).
Our head of state President Her Excellency The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason said it best on behalf of all of us:
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will always hold a special place in our hearts and we in Barbados will always treasure the memories of her visits to the island, in particular on Wednesday, the 19th of February 1975 when she knighted our first National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers on the Garrison Savannah.
“So today, as we acknowledge the passing of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, we pay respect to this most treasured and valued world figure. Her Majesty The Queen will come to be recognised as one of the most iconic global leaders in the post-World War II era. This high regard with which she was held is a testament to the quality of her reign.”
Our chairman, the management, and staff of Barbados TODAY extend heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. May her soul rest in eternal peace.