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Farewell, my queen

Queen Elizabeth II arrives with for the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament on October 02, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Queen Elizabeth II arrives with for the opening of the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament on October 02, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland. | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

She was one of the dearest friends I never had, whom, sadly, I never met. For over 30 years I’ve carried beautifully etched pictures of her in my wallet, never leaving my adopted home in the English Cotswolds without her. And, sticking closely, she would walk hand in hand with me to the post box, never minding whether she was going First Class or Second Class. Everywhere I went, I could sense her warm presence, whether looking down on me kindly from some shop wall, or perhaps from a commemorative mug on a shelf, or a tea towel hanging from a rack.    

Rare is the day I haven’t seen her, whether on the telly, perhaps opening some new hospital or school, or as I picked up my morning newspaper down the village lane. Her familiar face wasn’t always on the front page, but rarely was she ever left out altogether. Everyone wanted to know what she was doing, where she was going, who she was seeing, and — most of all — what she was wearing. Whether decked out in understated elegance for a royal occasion or wearing wellies with her hair wrapped in a simple scarf on a windy Balmoral walkabout, she had style!

Of course, she never knew me personally (why should she!), but I felt as if she did. And I’m sure I’m not alone. She had a way of making everyone feel special. Maybe it was because she invited us to watch her home movies, as if we were members of the family. In fact, we watched her children grow up. And now the next two generations, who, at early ages, have learned to mimic their grandmother’s signature handwave from that famed balcony at Buckingham Palace. 

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Through the magic of television, we’ve been alongside her at countless ceremonies, memorials, parades, and fly-pasts. On racing day at Ascot, we’ve cheered for her horses, knowing they gave her joy. Her corgis were our corgis. We could imagine walking with her along the decks of the royal yacht Britannia; and now, with its decommissioning in Edinburgh, we can personally enjoy a cup of tea on board, almost as if she were there, “playing mother” and pouring. 

No matter what the crisis, be it war or pandemic, she urged us to “Keep calm, and carry on.” It was what she, herself, did. Who of us can’t identify with her intensely personal heartaches — people we love getting divorced, or tragically dying. Or missing a beloved companion who has passed. Or having a child caught up in something shameful; or once-close siblings parting ways.  Who can’t identify with an annus horribilis, some horrible time when dreams go up in smoke, if not literally like Windsor? Through it all, she remained resolute, optimistic, gracious, and kind.

Despite such remarkable gravitas, she was at her best when she let her quietly and mischievous sense of humor shine through and make us smile. Can any of us forget her cheeky cameo, parachuting with James Bond? Or surprising us on her Platinum Jubilee with that delightful teatime hilarity with Paddington Bear? Who can’t love a sovereign willing to poke fun at herself!

Most of all, I will never fail to admire her unwavering commitment to her “holy” coronation vow of service to God and her nation, and her outspokenness as an unabashed Defender of the Faith.  Where else can one find such a sense of the sacred and selfless duty in civic leadership? 

As only a part-time resident of Queen Elizabeth II’s realm, I was never officially her subject, but no less blessed to have known her. So, farewell, my Queen. My life is diminished without you.

F. LaGard Smith is a retired law school professor (principally at Pepperdine University), and is the author of some 35 books, touching on law, faith, and social issues.  He is the compiler and narrator of The Daily Bible (the NIV and NLT arranged in chronological order). 

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