Remarkable Woman

qhorseQueen Elizabeth II riding the horse Burmese in July 1986

Wanstead resident Dan Slipper pays tribute to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, reflecting on several moments from her long life which demonstrate what an exceptional monarch – and woman – she was

The death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has brought great sadness to many people around the world. She played a unique role in our lives and the history of our country, and most of us have never known another head of state. She has been a constant reassurance in this ever-changing world, embodying the concepts of dedication, duty and public service. While remaining steadfast, she has relentlessly and imperceptibly moved the monarchy forward with the times. There are several snapshots from her long life and 70 years of service which I believe reveal what a truly remarkable woman she was.

Archive footage from her coronation in 1953 shows a beautiful young girl seemingly effortlessly assuming the burden of regal responsibility. Although she was just 27 at the time, she bears the crown with such dignity and grace – an early indication her reign will prove to be something special.

In 1981, during a Trooping the Colour ceremony, shots (later found to be blanks)were fired at her as she rode down The Mall. While riding side saddle, her only concern was for the horse, a 19-year-old mare called Burmese. With a few words, she gently calmed him and rode on to complete the procession while policemen sprang into chaotic action behind her to tackle the assailant.

It felt like there was an audible gasp across the country when she turned and said: “Good evening, Mr Bond,” in that famous clip recorded for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London in 2012. The fact she had agreed to appear with the actor Daniel Craig, who portrayed the fictional spy, astonished everyone watching and revealed her much-rumoured mischievous sense of humour. When she arrived in the stadium later that night, there was a definite twinkle in her eye.

Earlier this year, while grieving the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and affected by mobility problems, she appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of events to mark her Platinum Jubilee. Although she was 96 years old, she remained determined not to let people down and to join the long-planned celebrations and thrill the expectant crowds.

On her 21st birthday in 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth made this vow in a radio broadcast from Cape Town in South Africa: “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.” Throughout her unprecedented reign, she never let us down and kept her word to the very end. We shall not see her like again. Thank you for everything, Your Majesty, and farewell.

God save the King.

For more information on the life of Queen Elizabeth II, visit wnstd.com/queen